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Astrid and Veronika

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  5,664 Ratings  ·  1,090 Reviews
Veronika, 32, a writer whose boyfriend just drowned in New Zealand, rents a house in a small Swedish village next door to recluse Astrid, 81. They share walks, meals, wine, and dangerous memories. Includes 11 page reader's guide for literature teachers and students.
Paperback, 270 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by Penguin (first published 2005)
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Robin Nicholas
Feb 07, 2009 Robin Nicholas rated it it was amazing
sweet....beautiful......deep..... quiet.....thoughtful
Aug 13, 2007 Kyla rated it it was ok
What's the Swedish for "blech"? I was really looking forward to this book - a New Zealand/Scandanavian hybrid, the story of two women, a picture of food on the cover - what else could you ask for? How about good writing? An ear for dialogue? A decent editor?
This novel emerged from a First Novel writing workshop and I'm sorry it was allowed to enter the world instead of being mercifully smothered in a drawer. Well-worn plots (sensitive woman who has endured a Great Tragedy runs away and encounte
Jul 14, 2009 Teresa rated it really liked it
Recommended to Teresa by: Cathrine
Beautifully written book about memory and facing the difficult memories in order to feel and live again. Olsson has a very descriptive style and I love the way she writes about the changing sky especially. Water (and its various incarnations) is a powerful metaphor for her.

Favorite passages:

" '... when I listen to my own words, I realise that they tell a different story from the one I have carried all these years. ... I think that if we can find the words, and if we can find someone to tell them
Apr 25, 2010 Jessica rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to Jessica by: Carol
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anna Casanovas
"Astrid y Veronika" narra la amistad entre dos mujeres de edades y vidas muy distintas pero ambas muy desgraciadas y solas. La prosa de la autora es delicada y hay párrafos preciosos, pero me he quedado con la sensación de que en ciertos momentos era demasiado lírica. Es una novela muy triste y personalmente no me habría importado que hubiera un poco de alegría entre sus páginas (aunque esto desde luego es completamente subjetivo). La estructura narrativa, pasa del narrador en tercera persona al ...more
Maria Ella
Poignant and heartwarming, the novel sets you into a quiet mood, experiencing saudade in the middle of a heavy rainfall. The book opens with a cold winter welcome, it feels slow at first, but as you go along the story, you are slowly opening up - to the slow talks, to the longer sunshine, to the serense streams of the river bend, to the peaceful poems and prose, and to the sharings of the two women - of different generations, but having the same broken past and dark secrets.

I learned about thei
Mar 16, 2009 salinthebay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nancy
I had forgotten I read this book until I saw it displayed in Borders. A good friend recommended it at a time I needed a good friend. It deals with the friendship between two characters, one young, one old, from very different worlds,a New Zealand/Scandanavian hybrid. Conversations develop with each other,thus, their respective pasts are revealed. Both share their hardship in life. Even with such sadness as a background, I found this such a beautiful, gentle read, well-written and believable. Tho ...more
Dec 21, 2008 james rated it liked it
some of my favorites:

-come sit by me, and i shall tell you all my sorrows; we shall talk to each other about secrets.

-my life now consists of fragments, where some are so blinding in their intensity that they make everything else indistinguishable. what shall i do with these glittering shards? there is no pattern; i can't make them fit. with each other, or with the whole that should be my life. it feels as if my existence was extinguished in a flash, and afterwards my universe became incomprehen
Feb 14, 2009 Sandie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Maybe this book is one that came at the right time for me, but I really really liked it and slowed down my reading so I would not finish it. It is about a friendship between a younger and an older woman in a small town in Sweden. They both are healing from events in their past. Each chapter begins with a line or two of poetry which I liked. I also liked the author's descriptions of light and of food.
The author is Swedish but now lives in New Zealand and the book is set in both places, but most
May 31, 2007 catherine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2007
perhaps it is my scandinavian background that drew me to this book and allowed me to relate to it so, i really liked reading about the relationship between these two amazing women. it turns out that my bestemor (grandma) was reading it at the same time i was so we had a nice discussion of scandinavian literature. since reading it i haven't stopped thinking about moving to the tip of denmark, skagen, where i would rent a small house and write and read. just like Veronika.
Nov 21, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-clubs
This is a book I have wanted to read for such a long time - and bliss it is my real life book club read for November!

I can't wait but I have two to read first....

Well worth the wait. I had previously read Linda Olsen's second book and loved it. I now see that in her second book she built on the first refining her skill. That is the descriptive narrative of places she has been. The sensuous quality she adopts to describes a place is stunning. In this book I feel I would recognize the part of Swe
Dec 16, 2008 Ferris rated it really liked it
This is a story of two halves of one spirit finding one another. It is the story of a brief, yet transformative, relationship. Astrid, and elderly, isolated soul meets her new neighbor, Veronika, a devastated and wandering soul. It is the sharing of each others' wounds and loves which transform both of their lives. The themes in this book include: love, friendship, transformation, sharing, confessing, forgiving, and accepting. Absolutely lovely. It receives four rather than five stars because it ...more
Jan 26, 2017 Elza rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe 2,5

You can find my review in english further down

Efter att flera i min vänskapskrets pratat om hur mycket de tyckte om den här boken bestämde jag mig för att läsa den.

I Linda Olssons Nu vill jag sjunga dig milda sånger får vi följa med Veronika som en marskväll flyttar in i en enslig stuga i en liten by i Dalarna. Hon vill ha lugn och ro och en plats där hon kan skriva färdigt sin roman. Hon vill också vara ensam för att komma över en stor sorg. I huset bredvid bor en gammal kvinna, Astrid
Once in awhile, a novel comes along that leaves you pondering long after you’ve put it down. It’s wisdom implores you to explore further the subtle nuances of meanings within the context of your own life. Astrid and Veronika is just such a book.

The story is set in Sweden, where a young writer, Veronika, has rented a summer home, to work on her novel. She develops an unlikely friendship with a solitary older woman who lives in a lonely house near her in the countryside.

I love the friendship that
Mar 07, 2010 Megan rated it really liked it
I liked this book both because of the beautiful and unusual nature of the friendship that the author creates among the two women and because of the oddly serene tone and pace of the writing. Whereas most books propel you forward via an urgent pace and dramatic or suspenseful plot elements, this book unfolds gently and sympathetically and then relies upon your genuine interest in and intimacy with the characters to keep you turning pages.

Even when the characters are reliving traumatic events, the
Feb 14, 2009 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009-read, favorites
A beautiful, wonderfully written story about two women; one at the beginning of her life, the other at the end of her life, who meet and because of this discover hope and love again.
This book is written in such a way that I want to go back and copy parts of it; so poetic and grand.
I recommend this book for anyone who has felt a loss and the accompanying hopelessness that goes along with it. It may just provide you with the spark of hope you needed or the breath of love that was always there.
Dav'ne  Stahley
Jul 17, 2010 Dav'ne Stahley rated it really liked it
Wasn't sure I'd like this as I always like an ongoing story, but the friendship is blossoming between Astrid and Veronika and the secrets are being shared. I like it! A lovely story and there is no reason to think these women are 60 years apart in age...a friendship blossomed and they lived it.

At book club last night I revisited this book...interesting how i totally ignored Veronika's one big secret in my review above...hmmm.
Apr 15, 2008 Tristan rated it liked it
Recommended to Tristan by: Charlotte
This was a book about friendship built on timing and need. Two individual women very far in age and likeness form a strong bond that is necessary for both to overcome trials and the sadness of life. The author had a sweet way of expressing a very human need to feel loved and needed. I enjoyed that she was able to show the joys in life even when it seemed there would never be happiness again for these women.
Dec 31, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Though the plot and dialogue didn't feel entirely believable to me, the reflective passages are just lovely: intricate, resonant, imbued with green scents and shifting light.

I'd very much like to experience more of Olsson's work.
Sandy T
Apr 01, 2010 Sandy T rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sandy by: Stacy
Shelves: fiction, 2010
I started this not really knowing what to expect, and at first, it seemed to plod along a little too slowly. But as the story began to develop, the quiet pace seemed just right for this story of two completely different women who meet, and through their friendship are able to help heal each other's pain and grief... Astrid, nearing the end of her life has so much wisdom to share about what she has learned.
Some of my favorites:

"You can become aware of the small kindnesses, the little comforts. Be
Marie cuatt
Nov 03, 2011 Marie cuatt rated it really liked it
There are so many phrases and descriptions which I found simply beautiful and hauntingly familiar. As other's have stated, poetic/lyrical writing. Wild strawberries, surpising finds with a sweetness out of the ordinary. The water theme through out the story gave me pictures of the moods and feelings of the events happening, melting snow or ice, the huge terrifying waves of the sea, the river flowing under the bridge, the rain and wet snow. Also mentioned often were open windows, scenes through t ...more
Jun 16, 2012 Tracy rated it it was amazing
This was my choice for our Book Club and it generated one of the most in-depth and lengthy discussions we've had! I was reading it for the second time for our Book Club and found new insights ... it was definitely worth a second read!

"With extraordinary emotional power, Linda Olsson’s stunningly well-crafted debut novel recounts the unusual and unexpected friendship that develops between two women. Veronika, a young writer from New Zealand, rents a house in a small Swedish village as she tries t
Oct 12, 2013 Debbi rated it liked it
I would really like to give this book 3 1/2 stars. The first hundred pages are exquisite. The author's ability to capture the essence of the place had me running to my computer; checking out fares to Sweden. I also enjoyed the budding relationship between Astrid, a reclusive 80 year old woman and Veronika, a 30 year old writer. I initially slowed down to savor the book, but as the story unfolded I began to feel overwhelmed by the melancholy tone. Although the characters mention joy and happiness ...more
Jun 23, 2015 Gloria rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Gloria by: Sara floerke
How does a book marry the coldness of a Scandinavian landscape with the warmth of unexpected friendship? No other book since The Enchanted April has had the ability to soften my somewhat sardonic view of female friendships.
This book makes me long for an Astrid of my own.
Perhaps I'll need to be patient ... gather more years on myself ... and become an Astrid to someone else.
Cynthia Dunn
Jul 18, 2013 Cynthia Dunn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scandinavian-lit
An exquisite commentary on the value of friendship between women and what an old woman and a young one can learn from one another.
Jun 20, 2013 Sanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kaunis, koskettava, surullinen, mutta toivoa herättävä romaani Veronikasta ja Astridista, Ruotsista ja UUdesta-Seelannista. Upea romaani, ehdottomasti Olssonin paras. Neljä ja puoli - viisi tähteä.
T.D. Whittle
Feb 04, 2017 T.D. Whittle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews, australia-nz
Come, sit by me, and I shall tell you all my sorrows; we shall talk to each other about secrets. p. 63 quote from Edith Sodergran's Sorger (Sorrows), 1916.

As the title suggests, this is a gentle song of a book. It's a quiet story about two women, one in her thirtieth year and the other decades older, helping each other through terrible losses merely by being present to one another. Veronika and Astrid meet as new neighbours who are situated on a hillside overlooking a mountain town in Sweden. Ea
Feb 19, 2017 Fanficfan44 rated it liked it
I had mixed feelings about reading this as I felt the trope is somewhat overdone, the whole “older damaged woman and younger damaged woman find each other and together they heal” has been seen in many novels and films and I wasn’t sure if I was interested in seeing it again. I am really interested in books set in Sweden though and it is relatively short so I put aside my misgivings and gave it a try.

Astrid is the older character here, living alone on her family farm, the villagers basically igno
Review by Philippa Jamieson, published in the Dominion Post, September 2005
Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs
Linda Olsson
(Penguin, $28)

Late winter, and a young woman drives from Stockholm through the snow and gathering dark to a farmhouse for some kind of retreat. Veronika, the well-travelled daughter of a diplomat, has returned to Sweden to come to terms with a tragedy in her recent past, and strikes up an unlikely friendship with her elderly next-door neighbour, the 'village witch'. The reclusive As
Sep 15, 2010 Lii rated it did not like it
This novel is about two women, Astrid, who is in her 80’s, living all of her life in a village in Sweden and Veronika, a young woman, who after a personal tragedy in New Zeeland, is looking for peace in the same Swedish village. The older woman is living a very secluded life, not going out of the house much and doesn’t communicate with anyone; the people from the village called her a “witch”.

When Veronika moves into the house next door, she notices that there are no signs of life in the house.
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Linda Olsson lives in Auckland, New Zealand. Her debut 'Let me sing you gentle songs' was published in September 2005 in New Zealand. Since then the rights for it have been sold to many countries. It has now been published in the US and Canada under the title 'Astrid and Veronika' as well as in her country of birth, Sweden (Låt mig sjunga dig milda sånger).
More about Linda Olsson...

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“Take risks! That is really what life is about. We must pursue our own happiness. Nobody has ever lived our lives; ther are no guidelines. Trust your instincts. Accept nothing but the best. But then also look for it carefully. Don't allow it to slip between your fingers. Sometimes, good things come to us in a such a quiet fashion. And nothing comes complete. It is what we make of whatever we encounter that determines the outcome. What we choose to see, what we choose to save. And what we choose to remember. Never foget that all the love in your life is there, inside you, always.” 81 likes
“But once you accept the fact that you have always been alone, and will always be, then your perspective can begin to change. You can become aware of the small kindnesses, the little comforts. Be grateful for them. ” 23 likes
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