04 August 2007

A feminist book for all of us

I sent out the announcement that I'd reviewed a moderately interesting mystery last night. Today, Dan Conrad comes through with his reaction to what sounds like a much more meaningful experience. His praise for this book is extraordinary. It's now on my list of books I really must read. I bet Kris' book group and Nancy and her friends would be attracted to it as well.

Dan wrote:

Just last night I reluctantly came to the end of Hanna's Daughters by a Swedish writer, Marianne Fredriksson [at right].

One thought was "now, who could I really recommend this to?" Then I got your e-mail and thought, well, maybe Nancy or Kris, for example.

The novel tells the story of three women, a grandmother, a mother and a daughter.

They are not caught up in some international intrigue nor are they pursued by a serial killer. What they are caught up in is just getting on in life and trying to understand one another, and themselves, and the changing times (and their changing selves)--and the effect they have on one another, the mystery of love and the pull of obligation.

When I finished, I just sat there for a long time feeling I had not just read an absorbing story, not just come to know three characters well and from the inside, but had a deeper understanding of humanness itself. It may have helped that it takes place in Sweden and that reading about the grandmother gave me some insight into my own great grandmother who was born in Sweden in 1827 into a life of hardship until she came to America in 1893, old and tired, but not broken.

But then, the novel has also been popular in places like Germany, Korea, Israel, etc. so it hits, I think, on more universal themes. One of which the author mentions in an afterward in saying one of her goals was to "investigate why women in our western society aren't able to help themselves to the rights they have received."

Maybe a lot of us, male and female, get less from life than we could, or that we deserve.

Anyway, just passing this on. Not for everyone, no doubt, but for me it is one of the more absorbing and thought-provoking--and wise--books I've read in some time.

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