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3.58  ·  Rating details ·  2,678 ratings  ·  215 reviews
Elsa tekee kuolemaa. Martti ja Eleonoora yrittävät totutella ajatukseen puolison ja äidin menettämisestä, vaikka suru painaa kyyryyn. Äidin olemassaolon haurastuessa katoaa Eleonooran lapsuudenmuistoilta

Tyttärentytär Anna unohtaa itsensä helposti ohikulkijoiden kohtaloihin.
Maailma on hänelle kertomuksia täynnä. Sattumalta Anna saa tietää Eevasta, josta
Hardcover, 333 pages
Published September 2010 by Otava (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,678 ratings  ·  215 reviews

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Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-best-books
HOW?! How can people just go their whole merry lives, walking down the street, having never read this book? It's closer to literary perfection than any book I've ever read. The intertwining stories of the three generations--Elsa, Eleonoora, and Anna, alongside the story of Eeva-- it's so profoundly moving. It's like a mechanical but fully functioning cold, iron hand reaching into my chest- past all the layers of bone marrow and emotion- and just grasping my heart and not letting go. It's hard to ...more
Jun 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The terminal diagnosis of a 70 year old woman puts those around her in touch with their own mortality, causing each to assess significant life events. This is a very slow moving novel, mostly told through memories. Marital infidelity and its consequences for the children and for the partner outside the marriage are the focus for several generations. The author loves her similes, often repeating the same image over and over. I find it very difficult to be sympathetic to characters whose violation ...more
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[I received a review copy of this novel from Netgalley]

Original review here:

"Anna is quiet for a moment, then says, 'Every person’s sadness is their own. Other people can’t understand it.'"

True centres around Elsa, who is dying from cancer. But in many ways, the story is not so much about her, as about her family members and the way they deal with their impeding loss. Key characters are Martti, Elsa’s husband; Eleonoora, the daughter of Elsa and Martti;
An ordinary story, too precious actually, but since it's Finnish, it's interesting enough. A family, lots of characters whose names begin with E, their lives in the present day and flashbacks to the 1960s. Parallel themes of mother/daughter, parent/child, art, image, betrayal, loss, dreams, reality, truth... It starts out nicely but it's uneven. There's a character, Maria, who's completely superfluous. But I would like to try a cardamom roll. And the cover sure is pretty.

"Right, then.
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good lord, this book broke my heart. Reading a book in Finnish always makes everything feel a little bit special. And this book is definitely special. I am not sure how Pulkkinen's writing translates into English but if you want to read some contemporary Finnish literature, I highly recommend this. It focuses on the relationship between a woman who is dying and her husband. He and their family are trying to deal with the grief of losing someone so near to them. Once the granddaughter Anna finds ...more
Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the blurbs on this book refers to the author as "A thirty-something Finnish Joyce Carol Oates." I have to agree, in the sense that her primary subject seems to be the unavoidable pain of our awareness of mortality. The narrative unfolds from multiple perspectives, and deals with loss, regret and the manner in which patterns of behavior echo through biological families, and also in the larger, 'Family of Man' sense.

I've not read any Finnish literature before, but will certainly be
Tesa Fiona
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finnish-author
There are certain topics I never liked, that I wish I never needed to read. Unfortunately, you can't always avoid your abstinence. You might as well go on with your choice (once you pick up a book).

The relationship between Martti and Eeva is personally unlikable. Something I couldn't understand, something I couldn't sympathize to. Something, to the extreme, disgusted me. And, so, as you might expected, it stole away my initial innocent love for the book. It was painful for me to read through the
Dec 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finnish, read-in-2010
Totta was an amazimgly ready, eloquent and serious novel about the relativity of memories, love and relationships. The story is told through three generations of women, the main narrator being twenty-something Anna who I related so much that at times her words and thoughts were mine exactly. Like my sadness for example, has never been better explained than an ink stain spreading and diminishing.

In the end when the double life, forbidden relationships, death and life unraveled I found it
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A most intriguing novel of a young Finnish author. True is a multi-layered, complicated story about the big themes in life: love in all its facets, truth, death.
Pulkkinen tells the intertwined stories of three generations. What makes it so special is the way in which: her novel is an organic, flowing work of art. It is as if the three generations can foretell and forefeel what will happen to the others or what has happened to them.
Most of all I was really impressed with the maturity of the
A book of deep sensitivity that evokes impressionist painting. Riikka Pulkkinen subtly describes love, loving relationships between family members, mood swings that sometimes disturb the daily balance, but also conflicts that are forgiven but not forgotten.
I enjoyed reading this book. However afterwards, I keep a vague remaining of it. As if I had been immersed in a slow dream that disappears at wake up. The writing is strong, but where is this story trying to lead us?
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love stories where a long held secrets reverberating effects are seared into generations. This is that type of story. The story and secret of grandparents, revealed when the grandmother knows she has little time left.
Katie Cat Books
A long drawn out story about an affair and death.

Story: Elsa is a strong-minded Finnish woman on the brink of death. She has a husband, who is an artist, a daughter, and grandchildren. This book describes the interpersonal relationships between them.

Language: Occasionally one comes across a person in life who talks a lot, but actually says nothing. That's how I felt about this book. The characters go on and on about what if, hours sitting together not talking, avoiding issues, never having
Jul 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Older artist guy has affair with younger student employed to look after his (and his wife's) daughter. It goes as you'd expect, and the daughter and her eventual children experience consequences years later. Flashbacks to the affair from the present when the wife (of course) is dying.

Unbelievably boring. This story brings nothing new or different to a tale that's been told (in this case) once to often.

The writing is wildly erratic. I though at times it was gorgeous. At other times, I charitable
Chris Aylott
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-reads
Pulkkinen slips back and forth between two generations as the family of a dying psychologist is forced to confront their past and their relationships with each other. I enjoyed the portraits of life in 1960s Helsinki, as well as the increasingly unreliable narration. Pulkkinen's characters observe the same scenes and people in different ways, and there is some pleasant detective work in piecing together the "real" person behind others' viewpoints of her or him.
Cynthia Byrne
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this in English (English title is “True”) and am once again frustrated that Goodreads doesn’t have the English version available to rate. This has happened before, mostly with Scandinavian writers. The book is sad and full of family issues that many cultures can identify with.
Grada (BoekenTrol)
Usually I'm not a huge fan of I-form books. This one is an exception to that rule. Interesting to read. Many lives, one (extended) family, joy, unhappyness, love, leaving, hatred, desillusions, all come together in this book. At some point it even feels like history is repeating itself.
Ming Yen PHAN
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Poetic, lyrical and poignant meditation on love in all its guises. I don't read Finnish but the translation by Lola M Rogers is beautiful. Pulkkinen is certainly a writer whose books I would look out for.
Nora  Kivioja
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
At first, about the first forty-first page, reading seemed tedious and confusing. For some reason, it was difficult for the characters to get inside, and I could not identify with a wealthy, academic family of successful families. Then Eve stepped onto the scene and I became interested.
Mitchell Griffin
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A melancholy meditation on awareness of mortality and vulnerability.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written book that pulls you into the scenery and the moment. I read it a few years ago and although the plot is now lost on me, I remember enjoying being within its pages.
Dale Harcombe
Rikka Pulkkinen
Scribe Publications
Paperback RRP $29.95

As Elsa is dying she wants to die in her own home not in a hospital. As her family gathers around to support her, her husband Martti, daughter Eleonoora, a doctor, and granddaughters Anna and Maria all have different ways of coping with what is happening. The story is simply and factually told paying attention to details. I loved the details of the childhood of Ella, the child who became the pragmatic Eleonoora. But all in the lives of
May 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel about mothers and daughters. It particularly centers on two painful relationships of women to children they have been asked to mother but who belong to others. Like the psychological models of R. D. Laing, or novels devoted to the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, it describes the trauma in a first generation and its consequences in the third. It is a sad and cynical book, and the reader feels their pain. With one exception, the male characters are lightly sketched. The plot ...more
True by Rikka Pulkkinen. This author has written 3 novels, but this is the first I have read. I guess I had expected a crime or mystery novel, but that's not what this was. It's kind of a lead through in one family although it involves more people than just the one family. The mother is dying and they all know it. But she didn't want hospice; she wanted to home and keep her activities and family around her all the way through it. It can be confusing when it slips from different dates and from ...more
Karli Eller
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
"True" by Riikka Pulkkinen was unlike any book I had ever read before. The story of a family secret that comes to light when Anna, the granddaughter of Elsa and Martti, discovers the dress of her mother Eleonoora's nanny, Eeva, tucked away in the back of a closet for decades. Pulkkinen weaves a tale of betrayal and sadness by shifting perspectives throughout the novel. Partly narrated by the granddaughter, Anna, and partly told by the nanny, Eeva, one is able to see the ramifications of one ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, a gift from my dear Finnish friend. The story itself is straightforward enough about an elderly pschology professor, Elsa, dying from cancer and really the best part of the book is Elsa. She is a complicated professional woman who tries to direct the type of dying and death she is faced with. She does so successfully and in a way that is quite inspiring. Another dynamic in the novel is Elsa's and Martti's long term marriage. This was also well done and felt authentic and ...more
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“An apology is a request to be seen as you are, in spite of what you've done. Responding to one is the deepest love a person is capable of.”

The typical Finnish novel structure in which the same circumstance is told from different character perspectives is ideal for this story of a Family secret coming to light with aiti Elsa's terminal cancer.

Three generations grieve in their own way, but when granddaughter Anna unearths a dress from Elsa's closet, an affair repressed for decades requires a
Oct 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed. This book is way overrated and pretentious. The characters were too similar, I couldn't tell who was who at times, even their names were almost the same. The story of Eeva mixing with Anna's life was clever but the whole thing dragged on for too long. Few of those Paris trips could have been left out. Martti was a piece of shit who should have died in the fire.

I could have avoided this book if I had known better what it was about. Too bad that the text in the back was also
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Riikka was born in 1980 and spent her youth in Oulu, a town on Finland’s northwest coast, with her father (a lawyer), mother (a doctor), and two sisters. During that time, she was
also a very talented athlete. Nowadays she studies literature and philosophy at Helsinki University, and does her jogging without a stopwatch.

The Border, her first novel, was published in 2006 and to positive reviews and
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“Kenelläkään tässä maailmassa ei ole varaa pitää rakkautta lapsellisena ja muutosuskoa falskina.” 1 likes
“People were endlessly good, wise, and gentle in the midst of all the hurry, the conferences, the dinner invitations, the smell of disinfectant, the meeting reminders.” 1 likes
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