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Hanna's daughters
Marianne Fredriksson
Adult Fiction FREDRIK

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From Publishers' Weekly:

A chronicle of emotional and psychological exploration, this family saga, a bestseller in Fredriksson's native Sweden and in Germany, is an unerringly perceptive portrait of women in the flux of Scandinavian history. In this English translation, however, it gets off to a slow start, hobbled by spare prose and often stiff dialogue. But once the characters acquire identity, the novel begins to reverberate in the reader's mind. Set against the backdrop of the 1870s Swedish-Norwegian Union crisis and WWII, the plot skillfully interweaves the stories of three generations of women. Born in 1871, grandmother Hanna Broman is a woman of "sense and continuity," but her life is blighted when she is raped and impregnated by a cousin at the age of 12. Marriage to miller John Broman restores her honor and produces three additional children: Johanna andÄinterestingly, given the titleÄtwo more sons. As she matures, atheist-socialist Johanna is contemptuous of her mother, whose life has been so deprived that she must learn about mirrors, indoor plumbing and electricity. Johanna's daughter, Anna, is a writer living in the concrete suburbs, hungering to understand her antecedents. Ultimately, Anna acknowledges that she cannot find "a way home" in her research about her family; instead, she discovers that everything about them is "full of contradictions." As a result, this is a book that benefits from two readings because its patterns often are built on characters with identical names or similar personalities, many events are captured in disconnected vignettes and chronologies jump and overlap. Yet the unsentimental depictions of women's inner lives, of the resentment and bitterness that undermine many family relationships and of the harsh truths that can never be spoken, create a portrait of the human need to connect and of the spiritual isolation that often occurs in the absence of such connection. Rights sold in 27 countries; simultaneous publication in fall 1998 in U.S., U.K., Australia, Greece, France, Poland, Iceland, Japan, Brazil, Israel, Korea, Czech Republic; film rights to Bavaria Film in Munich; major ad/promo. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

This resonant story of three generations of Swedish women, a best seller in Europe, should also appeal to American readers with its universal truths about women's lives and the constraints of society, family, and love. Anna, a writer and grandmother probing her family history, brackets her own story around those of her grandmother Hanna and mother Johanna. At the age of 12, Hanna is sent into service on a farm, raped, and scorned as a whore until an older man marries her and takes her bastard son as his own. Johanna, Hanna's fifth child and only daughter, is the light of her father's life. But Johanna's father dies when she is eight, and she is sent into service with a city family, where she narrowly avoids sexual assault. Later she marries a fellow Social Democrat, suffering four miscarriages and bearing only Anna, a bright girl who resembles her grandmother. Grown and educated, Anna marries a womanizing journalist, only to divorce and remarry him and give birth to two healthy daughters and a son, whose death in infancy nearly drives her mad. An atmosphere of darkness, reminiscent of an Ingmar Bergman film, eases to a satisfying conclusion in this moving exploration of mothers and daughters and the ties that bind.‘Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty P.L., Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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