Astrid and Veronika
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Astrid and Veronika

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  3,950 ratings  ·  860 reviews

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 to come to terms with a recent tragedy while also finishing a novel. Her arrival is silently observed by Astrid

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Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 26th 2007 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 2005)
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Kyla
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...more
Robin Nicholas
sweet....beautiful......deep..... quiet.....thoughtful
salinthebay
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
Chelsie
This was a fantastic book. I had my doubts when I picked it up but the stories of these two women were so touching and beautiful that I didn't want this book to end. The language and writing was simple yet honest and it just had a purity about it I can't describe. There was nothing I didn't like about this book. It is a light read, but so rich in content!
Teresa
Jul 24, 2009 Teresa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Sandie
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...more
catherine
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.
james
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...more
Jessica
Apr 30, 2010 Jessica rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to Jessica by: Carol
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kate
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...more
Ferris
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
Tristan
Apr 15, 2008 Tristan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
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...more
Cindy
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.
Fi...more
Dav'ne (Davney)
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.
Sarah
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.
Megan
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...more
Suzanne
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...more
Marie cuatt
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
Tracy
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...more
An Odd1
Starts with dreams, escalates into fevered nightmares of Veronika 32, new renter next to recluse Astrid 81. Senior checks on ill author, brings nourishment. Both know their happy times will not last; no surprise to reader when most frightening memories shared first. New Zealand boyfriend died surfing, miscarriage right after. Mother suicided when Astrid ten, father ordered her to strip naked, loveless marriage at 18 (to older 25 ugly yuck), (view spoiler)...more
Sandy T
Apr 01, 2010 Sandy T rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sandy by: Stacy
Shelves: 2010, fiction
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...more
Philippa
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...more
Kristen
Jan 12, 2009 Kristen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women
Recommended to Kristen by: Cindy
Shelves: high-brow
This book deals with two characters from very different worlds who become close friends. Through their conversations with each other, their respective pasts are revealed, and they have both been through considerable hardship in their lives. Even with such sadness as a background, I found this such a pleasant and gentle book to read. Somehow, it just makes you feel good. It's also well-written, believable and the characters are fleshed out well.

Problems: A lingering issue of sexual abuse was han...more
Lauriann
Linda Olsson can set a scene with words! This, on page 2.... "The neighbouring house was a silent shadow, looming in the darkness beyond the tunnel of light where she walked. The air was dry and cold and her breath left her lips in whiffs of white vapour dissolving in the night. The sky was a black infinity without stars or moon." This was the world that Veronika found herself in when she rented a home in the country near Stockholm. She was a young woman in the process of healing from the death...more
Lii
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....more
Grace

Description: Astrid and Veronika are neighbors, both wishing to live in seclusion, but somehow coming together to form a friendship. Although Astrid has lived in the same area her whole life and is coming to the end of her years, and Veronika has travelled all over the world and has many years to live, both are grieving and in danger of cutting themselves off from the world. Watching them move gradually toward friendship, the reader gets to know them as they become acquainted with one another, b...more
Jaynez
"Amazing" is a pretty strong word for me, so I don't know if I'd go that far. Amazing was seeing a whole school of dolphins in the Sea of Cortez, heading for our ship, in formation like a big beautiful goofy army.
But I did love this book. I've read a few Scandinavian authors and they've all conveyed a sort of wide-open spare wildness both geographically and emotionally. No gushiness but sincerity and a quiet love. Not romantic love but the strong time-tested kind.
These are my people and I have...more
Diane
Overview:
Veronika, a 30-year-old Swedish writer, rents a home in a remote village to finish work on her second novel. Her only neighbor for miles is Astrid, a reclusive octogenarian who has earned a reputation (perhaps undeserved) as the village witch. Veronika and Astrid gradually become friends, taking long walks and sipping wine made from the wild strawberries in Astrid's garden. Each shares painful secrets along the way.

I liked this book and the writing was truly beautiful. I enjoyed how t...more
Debbi
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
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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...
Sonata for Miriam The Memory of Love De blå skorna The Kindness of Your Nature Noveller för världens barn

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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.” 80 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. ” 18 likes
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