April 2nd, 2007


The Northern Lights are in my Mind

The Arctic Circle is very popular all of a sudden. huskyteer has lived up in Swedish Lapland with the huskies. I sometimes visit the lovely blog Dances with Wool. Now I’ve been reading Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, by Vendela Vida. I bought this on the strength of a newspaper review, then by coincidence it was Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime.

When Clarissa’s father dies, she sees her birth certificate for the first time. He was not her father; the name on the certificate is that of a Sami priest. Clarissa is a very angry young woman. Angry with her dead father and her fiancé, angry with the mother who also lied to her and deserted the family. Like mother, like daughter: Clarissa too disappears without a word to anyone and heads for Finnish Lapland. The further north she goes, the further into her own past and the worse things get, descending into an hallucinatory nightmare of illness and bewilderment. Is it possible to escape the past? The style is spare, almost terse, yet there is a wonderful feel of this northern place and its people.

Next up, The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney, set in frozen Canada.