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To Mervas

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  86 ratings  ·  13 reviews
To Mervas is a turbulent journey through the wilderness of memory, domestic violence, and the vast gulf between lost lovers. After years of insulating herself from humanity in the wake of her disabled son’s death, Marta is jolted out of exile when a cryptic note arrives from Mervas, a ghost town deep in Sweden’s desolate northern wilds. The letter is from Kosti, her once-g ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Archipelago Books (first published 2002)
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I have been neglecting my Archipelago Books shelf for too long. I must say that every book I have read from this excellent publishing house of translated literature has provided great reading. To Mervas was no exception.

Marta, a solitary middle-aged Swedish spinster with a troubled past, receives a letter from her lover of over 25 years ago. He writes, "Marta, Mart! I'm in Mervas. It is not possible to get any farther away. And no closer either. Your Kosti."

Though I have never been to Sweden, I
Matt Bender
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is a twisted book. At times, it was compelling and poetic, but I had to take a lot of breaks. To Mervas addresses childhood trauma and it’s longitudinal effects. How the absence of need fulfillment or trauma affects later life choices. Some scenes were crafted in an engaging way like how a relationship broke apart because a emotional script followed and how that relationship script was written by childhood.

This shouldn’t be an easy read for anyone, but the novel deals with physical abuse,
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To Mervas is a heart-breakingly beautiful look into a broken woman and her lost life. Marta suffered a mental break during which something unspeakable happens (which I won't state because it is carefully laid out and selectively alluded to until it's revelation) and she spends the rest of her life in such a state of self-hatred that it is difficult for the reader to handle. But, through the course of the short novel she slowly, slowly comes to find something to believe in, something to care abou ...more
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: elisabeth-rynell
Life is so mysterious and I miss my heart, which has lost its strength.
I became scared of life itself, I’ll tell you, scared of how it can be and what it can do to you.
[...] my thoughts dug their paths and tunnels through me. I’m walking around with a longing in a constant state of alert, an impatient, chafing state of waiting. It is a longing for love and I don’t know what it wants with me, I don’t see how it could be useful. It is digging a hole through me, digging a hole to give my emptin
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Translated from the Swedish by Victoria Hagglbom

“There is a quality of precision in life, an incorruptible order that cannot be made relative. Life is relentless the same way death is. Everyone has a place in their own story with a myriad of threads running forward and backward, upward and downward, like a web. If you want to cut yourself loose, you have to cut yourself off from who you are. You can’t just switch your life for another. The details of your existence may be unbearable, but they ar
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I'm not sure what was real and what wasn't by the end, but I loved this book!!! Her writing is just phenomenal. I was riveted. By Marta's horrific story, but also by Ms. Rynell's soothing and impeccable writing style. Is there more? ...more
Jun 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marta is a 50 year old woman with a dark past and an even darker secret, who has lived friendless and alone for many years in an unnamed town in Sweden. She receives a letter from Rosti, her only lover, who she has not heard from in 20 years. Rosti writes only a few lines, but tells Marta that he is in Mervas, a small northern town. Marta, who has little to live for and even less to hang on to, decides to meet him, although she is unsure why she is going to Mervas or what to expect once she does ...more
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this book took me forever to read! And it was so short!
Main Character Marta has had a traumatic life; he father was abusive to her siblings and her mother, she mistakenly left the only man she's ever truly loved named Kosti, had an unpleasant and divorce, and to top off her grief her only child died at a young age. Marta is so grief stricken by how her life has turned out that she doesn't know how to live; she simply goes through the motions. It isn't until she gets a postcard from her tru
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a captivating portrayal of a troubled woman who goes on a spiritual journey to a remote town. The writing is great, describing her innermost thoughts and the scenery with vivid imagery. Her dark secret is hinted at early on and then finally revealed close to the end. The amount of torment and anguish this woman endures is almost a little too much. The ambiguous ending left me with both hope and uncertainty.
Karin Blomqvist
I remember this book was not what I expected, just that I thought it was a different story. Having spent about an hour reading here and there, I find it beautifully written and I guess I would rate a 4 or 5 if I read it again, just that there are so many other books I want to read so I pass this book on to a friend who likes the writer.
Jun 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(In het Nederlands gelezen.)

Een mooi boek. Een aparte schrijfstijl, soms is het heel intiem, maar soms ook heel afstandelijk. Ik vond het niet altijd duidelijk wanneer een stukje zich afspeelde, want ook heden en verleden wisselden elkaar af.
Het is een boek om lekker rustig te lezen.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of the most amazing pieces of written word, anywhere, ever.
excellent translation by Victoria Haggblom
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Elisabeth Rynell (born 17 May 1954) is a Swedish poet and novelist. Her novel Till Mervas (2002), the first to be translated into English, appeared in 2011 as Mervas.

Born in Stockholm, Rynell was the daughter of an English teacher and a nurse. After completing her schooling, she spent a year in England as an au pair. She has also visited Iran and Afghanistan on an overland trip to Pakistan and Ind

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