Livia's Reviews > Italian Shoes

Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell
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's review
Oct 07, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: henning-mankell

This novel is a little different to the well-known Wallander series. It focuses on a retired surgeon who left his profession in disgrace and lives alone on a small island in the Stockholm archipelago. His heart is as frozen as the Baltic waters in winter and he believes that the rest of his life will be lived out in this way. However, all this changes when his former lover, a woman whom he had abandoned many years previously, turns up unexpectedly on the island to demand that he fulfills a promise he made to her. As he leaves his island, travels and meets people significant to him, his world and his outlook on it slowly change. This is a very thoughtful study of middle age and solitude, and what happens when we get a chance to make amends for our mistakes. Fredrik Welin, the main character, is not exactly a loveable character when we first meet him, and he also makes some fairly heinous errors during the course of the story, but in spite of this his humanity shines through and I ended up sympathising and identifying with him. In many ways this book reminds me of Mankell's series about Joel Gustafsson. They're almost like bookends: we see Joel's thoughts and challenges during his youth and Fredrik's as he approaches old age, with a similar introspective nature and strong imagination. I'm very glad I read this book, and would love it if more of Henning Mankell's one-off novels were translated into English.
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06/09 marked as: read

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message 1: by Colin (new) - added it

Colin Rees I agree with your assessment of this wonderful book Livia. He does thaw his humanity, and realise that he has to forgive himself for his past errors and move on. I am also glad I read this book, my first non-Wallander, and hope to read many more.

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