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Two Women: A Novel of Friendship (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – May 28, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Swedish novelist Fredriksson (Hanna's Daughters) offers a formulaic, mannered relationship saga about two mature, divorced women from vastly different cultural backgrounds who establish an improbable but enduring friendship. In Sweden in the 1980s, Inge Bertilsson, an unsentimental former school teacher who now writes books on education, befriends a Chilean immigrant, Mira Narvaes, who arrived as a political refugee from Pinochet's dictatorship years before with her husband and sons. Gingerly, each of the women, both near 50, begin to explore the other's world: Inge, who lives alone and has two grown daughters, endured marriage to an abusive, alcoholic husband, whom she claims still to love. She asks probing questions about the other woman's past in Chile that Mira, a proud, pious, vivacious woman, would rather keep buried. But then Mira decides to search for her daughter, who at 13 was raped by soldiers, then disappeared into a Chilean prison. With the help of Inge's two daughters and Mira's own sons, now well-assimilated Swedes, the two women discover what actually happened during those dark years. Fredriksson is bent on telling a straightforward tale with little regard to narrative style; she unaccountably switches from voice to voice and offers hackneyed descriptions (loneliness "closed in around them like shrunken old garments"). Perhaps this is the fault of the translation, which is flat and full of British vernacular. While Fredriksson's observations about Swedish society are occasionally pointed and even humorous, and she also illuminates the horrors of the Pinochet regime, the novel never achieves liftoff. (Apr.)Forecast: Fredriksson's great popularity in Scandinavia and Europe has yet to translate into comparable numbers here. Hanna's Daughters did well for Ballantine, however, and her audience will undoubtedly enjoy this novel, leading to respectable though not stellar sales.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
In a work that seems more personal than Fredriksson's Hanna's Daughters (LJ 7/98) or Simon's Family (LJ 9/15/99), an instant spark between two women who meet by chance in a Swedish garden center soon binds them and their families in an intimate friendship. Both women are nearing 50 and divorced, with two grown children and similar childhood problems. But tall, blond Inge is a sensible Swede who relies on logic, while small, dark, passionate Chilean immigrant Mira talks daily to God. What starts simply as a charming tale of a rare friendship soon turns broader and deeper, as the circle of characters expands and terrible secrets are unearthed and shared. The worst of them concern the experiences of Mira's family and another friend at the hands of General Pinochet's forces in their native Chile. The author might have reined in minor characters to maintain a tighter focus and kept the ending from trailing off. Still, she effectively personalizes the immigrant experience and the abuses of the Pinochet regime, as she illuminates the bond between two unlikely kindred spirits. Appealing, if flawed, this is for fans of the author and most fiction collections.
- Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
It is about two women with secrets held deep inside them and by chance, they met at a garden center. There is Mira, a Chilean refugee from Chile who escaped to Sweden during the uprising. There is Inge, a native-born Swedish woman who is divorced and her two daughters are in London in school. Mira is also divorced and while her husband is rarely mentioned in this novel, he was somewhat central to all that has happened in the past. And these two women begin a long friendship based on mutal respect and trust.
This is a lovely book ~~ written lyrically and beautifully. Fredriksson draws the two characters with emotion and feeling and depths ~~ she introduces nightmares that every woman fears and how they both overcome it. They have discovered an inner strength within and found themselves more open and fragile as a result.
If you enjoy books written about friendships, this book is for you.
Like all Fredriksson's books, love is dealt with openly and frankly, almost unrealistically. There's none of the common coyness that one usually encounters, both in books and in the real world. Instead, people are heartbreakingly honest with each other, if not entirely honest with themselves. Lessons are learned by everyone, and often in unexpected ways. One character finds his true self by learning to paraglide, while another finds rebirth in a violent storm. In the end, the two families are strengthened by their connection, yet their imperfections persist, making them believable. Any reader will find themselves relating to these characters, despite their sometimes extraordinary circumstances.
It was a fun fast read, but seemed to be written as a formula novel, and it was too choppy. Clean up the rough spots and you could have a much better novel.
If you've never read Fredriksson before, skip this one and go for her earlier books, such as Simon's Family.
Unfortunately, her first several books, which are her best, in my opinion, have not been translated into English.