From nineteenth-century Sweden to Renaissance Italy, Hansen weaves together exquisite stories in a searching and impressive enquiry into why things happen the way they do...Bolt has died and lies in his coffin reflecting on the past. An eccentric scientist, he devoted his life to a vast research undertaking - collecting random incidents from the history of the species and finding the underlying pattern that connects them. His reveries lead him to tell two other tales - one of a doomed lighthouse keeper on a Swedish island and another of rivalry among Renaissance artists - until, finally, he tells a startling tale from his own early manhood.
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(198mm x 129mm x 32mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
This absorbing novel from Norwegian writer Erik Fosnes Hansen - known for his previous book Psalm at Journey's End - is set in three different places in three different periods of time. The novel's starting point is contemporary Norway. The eccentric and wealthy Wilhelm Bolt lies dead in his coffin contemplating life and his relationship with his young niece Lea. When she lost her bearings in the world Lea sought refugee at his estate, Ekelund, and Bolt grudgingly allowed her to stay. Is this just a random incident or is there an underlying pattern that connects Lea and Bolt? The old man believes in 'seriality', the theory that certain patterns affect our lives, and he has dedicated a lot of time and money to researching it. This exploration leads us to the two other storylines in the novel. First we go back to the 19th century and are introduced to 14-year-old Josefa, the daughter of a Swedish lighthouse keeper, and the fateful events that shape her existence. Then we go even further into history to Renaissance Italy, where we meet Fiorello, a young servant who must keep his wits about him in a world of intrigue. Finally we return again to Bolt and the dramatic events in his early life that shaped him Each strand of the novel is woven with a sure hand, keeping the reader totally engrossed in the characters and their lives. Into this mix are added contemplations on natural science, religion, art and philosophy, which along the way give insights into topics such as beekeeping, the historical development of lighthouses and the use of tempora paints in the Middle Ages. But the core theme in Hansen's writing is the force of destiny and the search for meaning. His characters cannot escape pain and suffering, and past events inevitably filter into the present. Yet Hansen is not a merchant of doom; he allows a ray of hope to exist in every human tragedy. His prose is both clear and poetic, and Nadia Christiensen's does full justice to his style, leaving the reader pondering on nothing less than the nature of existence itself. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Erik Fosnes Hansen
Erik Fosnes Hansen, born in 1965, is the author of Psalm at Journey's End. He lives in Oslo with his family.