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The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  241 ratings  ·  52 reviews
An American woman wakes up alone in a tent in the Norwegian mountains. Outside a storm rages and the fog is dense. Her phone is dead. She has no map, no compass, and no food. How she ended up there, and the tragic details of her life, emerge over the course of this novel. We discover that Jane is a novelist with a bad case of writer’s block—she had come to Norway to seek o ...more
Paperback, 230 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by Tin House Books (first published 2016)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
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Diane S ☔
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 thoughts soon.
Liz Barnsley
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a beautifully short, sweet and melancholy novel, speaking to the varying levels of grief – following the path of one woman, through her life, her loss and her coming to terms with everything that the universe throws at her.

We open with her alone on a mountain, cold, isolated – but how did she come to be there? What follows is a gorgeous and wonderfully layered portrait of Jane, what defines her, through childhood, adulthood, parenthood and a loss so terrible it is barely ima
Andy Weston
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though this is the third of Houm’s novels it is the first to be translated into English (from Norwegian), and another good translation to be added to the Pushkin collection.
Jane Ashland (from the US) has thrown herself into finding her family roots in an effort to overcome her huge grief after a family tragedy. We know from the media summary that at the very start of the novel she emerges from a small tent, alone on a snowy mountain in the Norwegian wilderness, the mystery is, how she got there
Ken Fredette
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicolai Houm has really taken a woman (Jane Ashland), who has been devastated by an accident involving her husband and daughter and took her from Wisconsin to Norway. She met Ulf on the flight to Norway and hooks up with him after she see's family in Norway. He's into researching musk ox and takes her with him into the Norwegian wilderness. All through the book it relates to Janes life and her choices at that specific time. When she's young and meets her husband, latter when they have their child. E ...more
Kirstie Ellen
Dec 25, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Thanks to Allen & Unwin for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review!

Initial Thoughts Upon Finishing
Well . . . this was really just not for me. The whole story felt entirely lacking in direction with confusing chapter after confusing chapter. Perhaps I missed the whole point, but I didn't find it a riveting nor interesting enough read to appreciate that maybe the way it was written was to reflect the internal thoughts and workings of Jane? I pushed through hoping for an interesting end but was last ireview!
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: m, norway, translation, library
Nonlinear story of relentless grief from the POV of a woman named Jane. Memories of childhood, courtship, adult life and a slowly revealed tragedy at the center of the novel are intertwined with a trip to Norway to visit distant relatives and an impulsive trek with a zoologist met on the plane. Jane is not always a likeable character but is more real and unforgiving of herself in a way that makes her grief more realistic.

Visit the locations in the novel

They say beautiful things come in small packages and this is one of them. The cover and the setting of the story are very nicely drawn – an ethereal green cover, the setting of the Norwegian mountains, remote and raw.

The story however is one of darkness, grief, addiction and loss. Against such a stunning background, the trauma was even stronger and I found the mountains and landscape was actually one of Jane’s worst enemies after all. She is stuck there, without a phone, on her
*** 3-3.5 Stars ***

Poor Jane Ashland is the best way I explain this story. When tragedy strikes writer, Jane Ashland, who is also an author with significant writers block, she leaves Wisconsin and the story begins with her waking alone in a tent in the Norwegian mountains. This is a very quick read and an extremely sad story explaining the grief Jane is dealing with. Overall it was a good read, but it was quite boring to me, which is why I rated it lower.

Many thanks to Netgalley and
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sad and beautiful, this slim novel portrays Jane's grief compassionately and realistically. Her grief is caused by a tragedy that changed her entire life, and what I liked about this book was the back and forth between past and present that gradually built up this full picture of Jane's life before and Jane's life after. It seems easy in a book about grief for the main character to seem pathetic; Jane is anything but.
Platon P
The first time we see Jane Ashland, she is alone on top of a misty Norwegian mountain with very little equipment and no phone. Instead of trying to survive, she is thinking of the position her frozen body will have taken when the rescuers find her. Cut to a few days ago. Jane, an American fiction writer, is having several drinks on her flight to Norway, where she plans to explore her Norwegian ancestry. On the plane she meets Ulf, a Norwegian zoologist who is just returning from a period of obse ...more
Jackie Law
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland, by Nicolai Houm (translated by Anna Paterson), opens with a woman waking up in a tent believing she is going to die. Just a short time before she had flown to Norway to meet up with distant relatives. She has now been abandoned in a cold, lonely landscape; left without food, water or a map. The woman’s name is Jane Ashland and she struggles to relate to anyone, or to care much about their reactions to her behaviour.

The story moves around in
Erin Britton
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Waking up alone in a tent on a mountainside in Norway, Jane Ashland is freezing, exhausted, hungry, more than a little hungover, and convinced that she is about to die. In fact, she can quite clearly envisage the scene when would-be rescuers finally discover her blue, snow-covered corpse, and she’s more than a little tempted to strike a dramatic pose in anticipation of that eventual discovery. But then, what would people think she was attempting to achieve in those final moments before death? ...more
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-tysm
You can also find this review on my book blog.

I saw this book a while back on Twitter and what first struck me was its cover which looked so interesting. I came across this book again when I requested Only Killers and Thieves and then I took a closer look at it (read the synopsis) and was SOLD. Trust me, once you read the synopsis you’ll want to find out more about it!

The Gradual Dissappearance of Jane Ashland starts with a woman, who we learn is called Jane, who wakes up in a tent somewhere in the/>The
Hannah Emory
Jun 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, I felt that this book was a waste of time for my purposes. I can see what Houm was attempting but I felt the story was not only anticlimactic but possibly, to coin a new term, "un-climactic." There were moments where the prose was going toward being poetic and saying something revealing but the plot fell short of the conviction and purpose I like to experience when reading a novel. The end was unsatisfying and I did not find it easy to be interested in Jane's plight. More, the tra ...more
May 04, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I almost didn't finish this one. I don't like Jane, I don't find the other characters particularly likable either. The back and forth from present to past feels choppy, and maybe the problem is I don't get enough of Jane's story early on in order to feel anything other than annoyed about her behavior.
I generally liked this. Slim and gripping is a good description. You don't know what is actually motivating the main character until the end, although there are hints. The writing is very evocative of the northern landscape in which a good part of the book is set.
Steven Hill
Weird book, not sure I got the deeper message
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story starts with a woman (Jane Ashland) waking up in a tent in the Norwegian mountains. Outside a storm is battering the bleak landscape and Jane believes she is about to die. The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland by Nicolai Houm (translated by Anna Paterson) is a gripping and compelling story of a woman who flies to Norway to see relatives. But how did Jane Ashland get to be here and alone.

Jane has now found herself alone in a bleak landscape in a tent with no food or water, she has n
Dana Portwood
The gradual disappearance of Jane Ashland is a fluidly beautiful and complex novel. Starting much like a suspense thriller, the story unfold in pieces making the reader wait to find out what exactly happened to Jane. The answer is not at all what we expect, not a physical nightmare, but a mental and emotional nightmare of grief and anger from which Jane cannot escape.

The character of Jane is astoundingly complex. She is not a "likeable" character and yet she is deeply sympathetic. The reader mu
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled across this book randomly at my library and the description mixed with the beautiful cover made me pick it up. If I'm going to be honest, I was mistakenly expecting there to be more of a focus on her being stranded in the Norwegian mountains but the story I read was much, much better. It is a nonlinear story because it jumps back and forth between present Jane and Jane's life in America.
There is a lot of grief in this story and I think what I like most about it is that it's not your
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Definitely back and forth between 3-4 stars. Jane Ashland travels to Norway after experiencing heavy grief and trauma. She uses genealogy and the exploration of family history as a means of moving forward. In a fog-like fashion, she hesitantly befriends a man next to her on the plane. We quickly descend into Norwegian heather + rock. We see Jane slowly disappear in the present thru the tremors and eruptions of her past. The layers of grief are as striking as they are subtle. I think where the no ...more
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel tells the story of a woman experiencing unthinkable grief which for her is really unbearable. Just think of her name: Jane (anyone, like Jane Doe, like you or me) ASHland -- her name is almost Dickensian. She falls beneath what life has dealt her and throughout the just over 200 pages we suffer with her and yet are driven forward to understand what caused such pain.
At first I disliked Jane for her coldness, her inability to respond to the warmth of others, but slowly the author
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This one started out slow for me, but it built slowly and deliberately into a very power portrait of grief and internal musings and pain. Jane Ashland is a woman who it takes us a while to understand, but as I write this I'm thinking maybe we really don't understand her. She is a woman still processing her grief and finds herself alone in a precarious situation.

The last quarter of this novel is just searing with personal pain and the writing is just devastating to read. A very power
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite its relatively short length, The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland packs it in; philosophy, the nature of grief and of love and maybe forgiveness, what it means to be a writer. But for me it’s the depiction of Norway, Houm’s home country, that fascinates. As well as the landscape that Jane literally and figuratively becomes lost in, the character of the nation is examined with a critical eye that can only belong to someone who hails from there. And on the fringes, the Eastern Europea ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very short novel, but packed with drama. The title is what attracted me to this book. How does one gradually disappear? This is a story of love, grief, and trying to exist in a "new normal". The main character, Jane, does not always fare very well and as the title indicates she does gradually disappear...or does she? The ending leaves one wondering. It certainly is an applicable metaphor.

I do not want to give the story away, but the writer has a gifted way of unraveling Jane's story.
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This novel was told nonlinearly and in the end it just isn’t worth the effort it took to figure out where and when the next scene was relative to the big picture. It took half the book for me to care a little about the story and I quickly figured out after that why Jane was such a jerk. There is one terrific chapter in the final 30 pages that was gripping and interesting. But that was it. Perhaps the book would have been worth reading had the author hooked me on the tragedy and its immediate aft ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If there is such a thing as a beautifully depressing tale....this is it. Jane is a sometimes author who is trying to get away from it all after a tragic circumstance and she sort of succeeds but at a most horrible cost. Abandoned in Norway's wilderness in search of the elusive Musk Ox with a new-found friend Ulf, she is doing all she can to survive while reminiscing about the events that brought her here. It's a cold, lonely and sad journey!
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first chapters are brilliant, especially the second when Jane if flying in a plane, distracted, not right. I like that she isn't meant to be likable. She's going through something, someone points out to her, and that is true. She is like her husband's writing. The story becomes less interesting after the beginning. 3.5 stars
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked the story line, very sad. The main character was easy to identify with even though she was not an “easy person” in the story. Very easy to visualize so the writer must be a good descriptive writer.
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Told in flashbacks. A slim book that didn't have the emotional impact I think I was looking for, or how advertised. Life, love, grief. I think I missed something. Will perhaps re-read at a later point, to see if it strikes me different.
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Born in 1974, Nicolai Houm has published two novels, which were both critically acclaimed in Norway. The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland is the first publication of his work in English. He works part time as an editor in the publishing house Cappelen Damm, and lives in Lier with his wife and daughter.