3. Sweden: Anna, Hanna och Johanna.

I must excuse myself that it took me so long for the next review, but I had so many things to do that I have hardly time to read. For more recent reviews on nearly everything, please check out my other blog! 🙂

Marianne Fredriksson. 1995. Anna, Hanna och Johanna. Wahlström & Widstrand. Falun.

My next stop took me to Sweden, where I dived into a story by Marianne Frederiksson (1927-2007), a Swedish writer who started her career at a local newspaper in Gothenburg. She was also chief editor and/or founder for/of different newspapers about family, living and furniture. She had her debut novel, The book of Eve, published very late (1980) and only 14 other novels followed, but yet she was translated into a huge amount of languages and sold over 17 million copies worldwide, especially in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. Important topics in her novels are religious symbols, friendship and the life and perspectives of women.

I read the book Anna, Hanna och Johanna (Hanna’s daughters) in Swedish and the main point is the story of Anna, who is developing a strong interest in her own family history and starts digging deeper to be able to tell the stories of her mother Johanna and grandmother Hanna, on the way finding out more about herself.
It all starts with the story of Hanna, a girl who starts working at a very young age on the nearby farm. One night there at the age of 12 she is being raped by the farmer’s son and soon after this cruel seen they find out she is with child. Her story develops. Even though she had a child before she was married, she married a miller and lived with him at the mill he bought until he dies. Together with all her children (four sons, if I remeber right, and one daughter), she moves to Gothenburg and a different life begins for her.
Now the story of Johanna, Hannas daughter, starts. Through Hanna’s eyes we see her growing up and develop.

At some point we start following Johanna. She is working at a market hall until she marries and eventually has a child on her own. Together with her husband she live nearby the sea in a small house with a big garden. Johanna never gets along with her husband’s mother and questions even, if she truely loves him. But her life just goes on. She gets back to work at some point, experiences World War II, makes friends, loses children before they are even born and in the end sees her daughter Anna starting her own life.

Anna isn’t really happy. She has an abortion when she is still at university. Later on she marries a women’s man and has three children with him, but her son dies at child’s age. They get divorced but marry again. Anna realizes that he is a person who is actually strong and reliable, even if he hasn’t been there all the time. Especially in the time of her parent’s death he is her safe haven in some way.

Shortly after her mother’s death she starts questioning though if she actually knew her, as she only saw her as a mother and not as a person as such and by cleaning her parents’ old house before she sells it, she discovers many things they actually had in common.

My opinion on this book: I enjoyed reading it, even though it was a bit difficult to follow at times, as they were a) talking dialect, especially in the beginning and b) at some points it got a bit confusing who is who and why some things were happening. It might just have been me, though. If I had read the book in German, my native language, it could have been a bit less confusing.
Nevertheless it was a touching story of three women, who had more in common than they seemed to have right in the beginning. So if you are interested in the kind of books that develop the story of a family or the story of women, this might be the right choice for you.

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2 thoughts on “3. Sweden: Anna, Hanna och Johanna.

  1. Pingback: My reading project list | A literary travel

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