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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017.

'Nobody can leave an island. An island is a cosmos in a nutshell, where the stars slumber in the grass beneath the snow. But occasionally someone tries....

Ingrid Barrøy is born on an island that bears her name - a holdfast for a single family, their livestock, their crops, their hopes and dreams.

Her father dreams of building a quay that will connect them to the mainland, but closer ties to the wider world come at a price. Her mother has her own dreams - more children, a smaller island, a different life - and there is one question Ingrid must never ask her.

Island life is hard, a living scratched from the dirt or trawled from the sea, so when Ingrid comes of age, she is sent to the mainland to work for one of the wealthy families on the coast.

But Norway too is waking up to a wider world, a modern world that is capricious and can be cruel. Tragedy strikes, and Ingrid must fight to protect the home she thought she had left behind.

Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw.

©2013 Cappelen Damm AS (P)2016 W F Howes Ltd

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Rubiagalega
  • 01-19-18

Brings a sense of melancholy about tradition

The narrator's tone helped the sense of slow pace, reflection about each moment. The story is rich in detail, attending to the daily lives of the islanders and their life's views. Focus on bare necessities, tools, weather, money, self sufficiency. Emotionally it sustains a tone of control, sadness, not much joy, but humbleness dealing with life as it comes. Some examples of family coming together in times of loss, blood connections, wealth passed through generatiins. It is possible to notice gender inequalities and women struggle for equality in relation to gender, age hierarchy in the family. It can help empathise with the life style of isolation and endurance. Hope, frustration. Love, hate. Dream, shattered dreams. Many contradictions and overall acceptance of what live brings.

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  • Kremer
  • 01-16-18

Wonderful book, dreadful rendition

I found this account of a family living on a rock in the Norwegian Sea about a century ago utterly captivating. The prose style is economical but allows itself moments of sublime beauty. By the end you care deeply about this set of survivors leading their humdrum lives, which skirt so close to madness and death.

The reading is genuinely awful. Not only is the sing-song delivery grating, it is often just plain wrong - like when a train conductor makes an announcement which is unintelligible because the words have lost their meaning through repetition. It is amazing that the many, many mistakes of emphasis weren’t corrected by the producers. Nevertheless, this short book is worth your time.