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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  10,095 ratings  ·  845 reviews
Tutto comincia con un testamento. Al momento di spartire l’eredità fra i quattro figli, una coppia di anziani decide di lasciare le due case al mare alle due figlie minori, mentre Bård e Bergljot, il fratello e la sorella maggiori, vengono tagliati fuori. Se Bård vive questo gesto come un’ultima ingiustizia, Bergljot aveva già messo una croce sull’idea di una possibile ere ...more
Paperback, Le strade, 374 pages
Published May 21st 2020 by Fazi Editore (first published September 1st 2016)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,095 ratings  ·  845 reviews

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Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 84 pages of this book were close to mind numbing. It was as if the author was reciting a mantra about her father’s final will to calm herself. As each page melted into the next there were small hints revealed as to where the story was headed. By page 84 the narrator is angry. She’s hammering out emails to her younger sisters calling them on their self righteousness. She forms an alliance with her brother as the family unravels. Something is terribly wrong. The narrator has voluntarily ...more

3.5 stars

This book, set in Norway, revolves around the unresolved childhood trauma of a middle-aged woman named Bergljot.

Bergljot is a divorced theater critic with three grown children who's been estranged from her parents and sisters for decades. Bergljot is drawn back into her family's orbit when her brother Bård, who's also alienated from their parents, contacts her about an inheritance.

Bergljot and Bård's parents bequeathed their two vacation cabins to their daughters Astrid and Åsa instea
Tanja Berg
The truth is I didn't like it. I've spent several days trying to not read. Yet there's been such spectacular fuss around this book here in Norway - for its semi autobiographical content - that I had to finish. Ugh. I could have just left it after 50 pages, when I first started wondering whether it was worth it, for all it gave me. A waste of time and patience.

The book starts with an argument over the inheritance of two summer cottages and descends into washing the family's dirty laundry so to s
Katia N
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've picked up this book because I’ve read A House in Norway by Vigdis Hjorth and it has left a lasting impression on me. As far as I know, only these two of her books have been translated into English. Both books focus on difficult moral dilemmas. And Hjorth investigates them with unflinching honesty and forensic attention to detail, which makes a very thought-provoking compelling read.

“The house in Norway” was dealing with a contradictory, often conflicting relationship between a local host a
Paul Fulcher
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I tapped Lars on the shoulder and asked if I could read something to him. He looked at me, hoping it didn’t have anything to do with inheritance.

Will and Testament translated by Charlotte Barslund from Arv og miljø by Vigdis Hjorth was recently longlisted for the 2019 National Book Awards for Translated Literature.

The novel starts with the first person narrator, Bergljot, telling us how her Dad died five months earlier, just days after she had herself become embroiled in a dispute between her b
anna marie
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this novel is about child sexual abuse [and this review is also about that] [and i would say includes emotional abuse and alcohol/addiction too].

i'm not sure how public i want to be about my response to this novel on goodreads lol but i would like that say that in a few/some/many/too many ways this novel is about me and my family, about the winding conflicts and the repetitive, painful conversations. the way the family narrative perpetuates itself through each of us, creating roles, hiding trut
Oct 09, 2021 marked it as attempted  ·  review of another edition
dnf'ed at 15%
I happen to come from a huge family, and having had to listen to my extended family's misadventures with a dacha much less fancy made me extremely uninterested in this hmm exploration of sorts.
Ellen Springelkamp
This was hard to get through for me. Even though the premise of the novel looked interesting, the style of writing was tedious.
I felt like the author just randomly jotted down her feelings jumping back and forth in time, and forgetting she already wrote certain things. The repetitiveness was bizarre. Even in the same paragraph the same things were being said. Example: ‘ I could not sleep. I laid awake. I could not sleep because of this and that. I could not sleep‘ etc etc.
Well I could definite
Paul Ataua
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pomegranates were pretty rare in my area when I was a child, but whenever my mother came across them at the market, she would bring a couple home for me and my brother. As we know, the pomegranate has very small seeds surrounded with a juicy red pulp that is so delicious, but getting to that heavenly center requires a great deal of effort forcing your way through the tough thick peel and the flesh that covers it. ‘Will and Testament’ is a pomegranate of a book. At the center is a special and not ...more
Guillaume Morissette
I thought this was an outstanding novel that picks up momentum as you read & builds up to a scene around the halfway point that threw my jaw on the floor & left it there for a while.
Ann Ingebrigtsen
L-O-V-E-D I-T!
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Somewhere in here is a really good book, but it's drowning in repetition and overwriting. ...more
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, I suggest you read the book without checking reviews or blurbs because I felt my reading experience spoiled with the short descriptions I saw. If you have had a preview, stick with the book, since the second half is more rewarding than the first, if their has been a spoiler revealed. Second, if you must read a review, Check out Paul Fulcher's:

He stated better all of what I planned to say plus more.

This leaves me only to add that I found myself que
Sian Lile-Pastore
This book is about child abuse so obviously a difficult read and one you might not want to engage with.
saying that, I didn't find it too traumatic to read as it doesn't go into much detail about the actual abuse (realise that sounds a bit weird - i just didn't want to put you off reading it as its so good)
I suppose its more about trauma and recovery and how trauma presents itself. it also talks about families, secrets, emotional abuse, alcohol dependency, conflict (wars/genocide) poetry, books
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
Will and Testament by Vigdis Hjorth, translated by Charlotte Barslund, is the first-person narrative of Bergljot, a woman in her fifties who has been estranged from her family for over two decades. An inheritance dispute and the death of her father forces Bergljot to interact with her family. Every interaction with them dredges up memories of the past as Bergljot struggles to understand her family’s choice of denying the truth of her childhood trauma. The nature of the trauma is alluded to but n ...more
Cherise Wolas
Bergljot, the first-person narrator, is an editor, divorced, the mother of three grown children, a grandmother, estranged from her parents, her older brother, and younger sisters. 23 years ago, after finding herself in an intense personal crisis, she enters 4-day-a-week psychoanalysis, and eventually tells her family what happened to her when she was a child - that she was abused by her father, who is still married to her mother, still the head of the family. They denied her claims and challenge ...more
The “will” in the title is obviously referring to the legal documents of inheritance, of which lineage gets what, which is to be settled with testimonies competing for sympathetic witnesses. But I suspect it also refers to the messy contest of human wills.

This is a Freudian account of secrets, impulses, transgressions, betrayals, sexual competitions, which is ostensibly about a family passing around a shameful secret, but it’s also sneakily superimposed onto the mass madness of post-enlightenmen
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I have hesitated long before reading "Arv og miljø". There was a long debate about how writers should or should not write about their own experiences. About the boarder between reality and fiction? About the right to violate private lives.
I did not read "Arv og miljø". I listened to it. The story is read by Vigdis Hjort herself. I'm astonished. The novel is furious, but wise, painful, but thoughtful. Hjort alternates between depictions of the main character's experiences of her family and philo
I don't think this book will be for everyone. The style is either going to grab you or not, but I found it good and engrossing. It is really one of the free books I read that really does tackle mental health in a good way. ...more
Dec 10, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Never finished the book, the fuss about the heritance went on and on, I got bored with the book
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book wrecked me and I am a better person for it.
Thank you for writing it.
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I was incapable of forgiveness.
But throw it into the sea of oblivion?
Hold it up to the light, examine it, acknowledge it and accept it, and then throw it into the sea of oblivion?
I couldn’t do that either. Because it wasn’t isolated incidents and a finished story, but a ceaseless exploration, a necessary excavation full of dead ends and distressing flashbacks. And the presence of my lost childhood, the constant return of this loss had made me who I was, it was a part of me, it pervaded even th
Ryan Jarjoura
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I think this is the first book that's made me understand the power of the novel as a medium. The story doesn't ultimately end in catharsis, but neither do most of the struggles in our lives. Throughout this story, we see Bergljot try SO hard to just tell her story and be listened to. The cyclical nature in the story is reminiscent of how we experience our memories in real time--we remember things based on events that trigger the memories. The narrative of our life is not built up linea ...more
Deeply strange but won't let you go. I felt I had to finish it although you get to the end and go 'huh?' The writing style is stark as some instruction-manual, but that I think is the author's intent. I struggled to understand why this was such a best seller until I read more about the author's back story and supposition about how much of this novel is true. But should that make it a great book? Don't think so. Still, the part of the plot centering on family and inheritance is well done and I'm ...more
Gustaf  Runius
Ok, not very exiting or interesting family drama. Persons are more clipboard figures than fully developed characters.

Still the topics of relations between siblings and parents, love, rivalry, shame and the question if something really happened are interesting topics. Too bad that the characters are not better, then this might have been a really good book
Harald Kirkerød
Read it all in one sitting. Couldn't put it down! Powerful stuff. ...more
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is such a skillful book, seemingly straightforward at first glance, but the authorial choices made by Hjorth make this book so affecting and worthwhile. I have no doubt that if an American or British writer had attempted to write the same book, it would be absolutely dreadful. And why is that? Is it because the domestic drama genre has become so hollowed out and stale that we can predict the entire narrative and smell the twists from a mile away? Maybe. But I think one thing that Hjorth suc ...more
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book captures so many aspects of family dispute/drama/disruption. There's the falling out between individuals, the ripples that run through the rest of the family unit, and then (for this family) the complication of an inheritance - allegedly to be distributed equally - and four children, two who have fallen out with the parents and two who have not. There's questions of alliances and allegiances, reliable/unreliable narrators and memories, and if money transferred somehow then requires a c ...more
Will and Testament is a woman’s anguished efforts to be heard and to be believed. The story (apparently, an autobiographical novel) is narrated by Bergljot, a woman in her fifties who is living with the trauma of sexual abuse she faced as a child. The incident remined as a brutal and shameful family secret, where she was not believed and rather accused of maligning the honor of the family. Throughout her life, ‘not being believed’ becomes as painful as the traumatic incident itself. The whole st ...more
Simon Kearney
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm fascinated by the ways in which parents screw up their kids. It seems no matter what you do it can't be helped. The only question for parents is how to minimise the damage.
Here the damage to the protagonist is so vivid. The parents attempts to minimise the damage to the family only wreak more havoc, deservedly so given what happened. It runs like a river through generations.
The characters vulnerabilities are the underlying story. You're forced to question your sympathies. And everyone is s
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Vigdis Hjorth (born 1959) is a Norwegian novelist. She grew up in Oslo, and has studied philosophy, literature and political science.

In 1983, she published her first novel, the children's book "Pelle-Ragnar i den gule gården" for which she received Norsk kulturråd's debut award. Her first book for an adult audience was "Drama med Hilde" (1987). "Om bare" from 2001 is considered her most important

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“Man blir ikke snill av å ha det vondt. I regelen blir man slem av å ha det vondt. Krangelen om hvem som har hatt det verst, er barnslig. I regelen forkrøples de undertrykkede og får et ødelagt følelsesliv, i regelen overtar de undertrykkede undertrykkerens tankegang og metoder, det er undertrykkelsens mest imfame konsekvens, at den ødelegger de undertrykkede og gjør dem mindre i stand til å frigjøre seg. Det skal hardt arbeid til for å gjøre lidelsen om til noe som er nyttig for noen, særlig for den lidende selv.” 5 likes
“She practised losing with style and good grace and not ruining today by mourning yesterday's losses or fearing tomorrow's potential losses, to be like the lilies of the field and the birds of the heaven, which are present in the now, silent and obedient, to gather moments of joy with which she could warm herself if times get tough, she had a feeling that times might get tough.” 3 likes
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