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The history of Danish dreams
Peter Hoeg
Adult Fiction HOEG

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From Publishers' Weekly:

His name having been established here through his second and third novels, Smilla's Sense of Snow and Borderliners, Hoeg now offers his debut work, first published in Denmark in 1988. As its subtitle indicates, this is an ambitious and quirky novel, reading like an epic fairy tale in which the magic elements are the social revolutions of the modern era. These revolutions are fancifully cast in terms of the characters' ever-evolving ``dreams''-such as ``the dream of rebellion'' or the ``dream of the Village''-in a sprawling plot that progresses as a sort of surreal family saga. Introduced in the first section are four characters born around the turn of the century: Carl Laurids, whose ambitions lead him beyond his estate, where, in the 16th century, the resident count had banned the keeping of time; Amalie Teader, a girl whose delusion that she has been ``chosen'' springs from a wealthy and powerful grandmother, who writes a newspaper that predicts the future; Anna Bak, a pastor's innocent child who is deemed worthy of bearing ``the new Messiah''; and Adonis Jensen, the son of roving thieves, who refuses to learn how to steal because of ``his compassion for mankind.'' In Part II, which ends at 1939, these four become couples: Carl and Amalie have a golden child, Carsten, for a son, while Anna and Adonis produce rebellious Maria; in the final section, Carsten and Maria marry and have children of their own. The characters are as vivid and believable as they are eccentric; unfortunately, they become somewhat buried under an over-staged plot, which seems intent on reflecting every trend of the 20th century, itself fated to bear ``the weight of so many dreams that refuse to amalgamate.'' Luckily, Hoeg's use of a casual first-person narrative voice to frame the story infuses humor and a certain earthy wisdom into his philosophical musings. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In a series of linked vignettes that move from 16th-century aristocratic arrogance to 20th-century social crisis, Hoeg offers a wildly inventive account of Danish history. He opens with the story of Carl Laurids, a steward's son at the manor of Morkhoj, where time has stood still for four centuries following a decree from the count. Amalie Teander, scion of a newspaper family whose matriarch cannot read but magically predicts the future; Anna Bak, a parson's daughter who seems to be one of God's elect; Adonis Jensen, who veers from the family profession of thievery‘all are remarkable creations embedded in an ornate, carefully observed text. In the book's second half, these characters link up in explosive combinations. While profoundly different in style from the suspenseful Smilla's Sense of Snow (LJ 8/93) and Borderland (LJ 8/94), a hard-edged social fable, this new novel‘actually, the author's first, though the third published here‘sustains Hoeg's attack on conformity and social injustice. A dark but brilliant fairy tale; highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/95.]‘Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal'' (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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