A couple of posts ago I spoke about how sometimes we need to find a book that fits our mood. 'Astrid & Veronika' fit my current mood perfectly. Of course I didn't know it would at the time. The book is melancholy and dark and this past week, when I picked up the book, my week didn't start off so bad but holy crap did it take a turn for the worse (including overwhelming deadlines at work and phone calls about family members that you know someday will come but you hope you still have a few years yet to receive). Minor spoiler alert - much like the ending of the book where things come out OK, so too did my mood - deadlines were met, and much, much more importantly, said family members are now OK. But through it all, this book was the perfect accompaniment to my mood.
As the name suggests, this book centers on two main characters. The first, Astrid is 80 and lives in a small town in Sweden. Rarely having gone anywhere and having been dealt a pretty hard hand in life, Astrid comes to realize in the book that she did little to make it better for herself. Veronika is 30 and comes to live next door to Astrid to escape her past and work on a book she is writing. The past Veronika is escaping needs time to heal. I won't tell you what it is because part of the beauty of how Olsson tells us about these two women's pasts is through their developing friendship. They invite each other over to dinner or for a walk and slowly reveal to each other bits of their past and that is how, we too, learn how hard the things are that they have gone through. Together, though their friendship may seem an odd pairing, they are able to help each other heal from their pasts. It is a beautiful, if somewhat dark story. I think Sweden was the perfect setting for it.
Maybe, had I been in a wonderful mood last week this book would have been too slow for me but I do believe that certain books find us at certain times and that is somewhat the inherit truth of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. I loved it!
(This book was obtained through paperbackswap.com)