A House in Norway by Vigdis Hjorth

A House in Norway by Vigdis Hjorth

Norweigan fiction

Original title – Et norsk hus

Translator – Charlotte Barslund

Source – personal copy

I brought will and testaments earlier this year then remembered I had this by the Norweigan writer Vigdis Hjorth. Vigdis grew up in Oslo she studied Philosophy, literature and political science and has been writing both adult and children’s fiction. She writes about the dilemmas of living in Modern society, her character struggles to come to terms with a rapidly changing world and to find a meaningful way to integrate with others and realize their own potential. She has won many prizes and has a number of her books translated into English she said her influences are Dag Solstad, Bretold Brecht and Louis-Ferdinand Celine. This is the first book by her I have read.

A few days later a woman phined and introduced herself as the interperter for “your tennt Slawomira Tzebuchwaskai”. She spoke broken, but clear coherrent Norweigan. It was concerning her tenant’s housing situation. She said and she wanting to meet with Alama. And Alma was delighted and said yes because she wanted nothing more that to resolve the tenant’s housing situation. The interpreter would visit. Alma in a few days, and the pole would be there as well, almaunderstood, so did this mean that she was moving back in ?

After her husband has to return to Poland she is left as a single parent Alam still willing to help ?

The book follows the life of a divorced textile artist. She lives in an old villa that has an apartment that she has rented out once unsuccessfully so when she lets a Polish Family move in she sees them as steady and she starts work on a large commission doing a tapestry to celebrate a centenary of women’s suffrage in Norway. But then as the Famil have kids and things start to happen like the Husband has to return to Poland leaving the wife and the kids alone in the apartment but they start knawing at Alma like the Mouse that her Polish neighbor says she has but won’t take the traps out like this and other little things start making Alma regret her decision. this leads to a series of letters rent rise changes in the size and description of the apartment it size. This carries on will she get her house back will she finish her commission?

Alma wrote the long-planned letter to her tenant in order to make same demands of her as she would have done of a Norwegian by informing her of the Norwegian attitude to electricty consumption. To be more conscious of her usage and turn down the radiators at night, sort her rubbish for recycling and not mixpaper and cardboard with other waste, and she also requested that she parked her car alongside Alma’s and always in the tarmac rather than on the ground between the treesfurther down where Alma wanted the grass to grow in the summer .

The crack in their relationshipo start after her husband isn’t their little things that build up over time.

 

This is done exactly what the description of her writing does in the book we have Alma she is a fair mind woman in her eyes her kids come ever so often. especially Christmas but in your heart you feel she is only renting the apartment for the money and no matter who was there she would eventually pick fault and her we see this she wants to be fair but at the back of her mind is the wanting a quiet life and the things like clearing the snow which when she contact the landlord advice line she does this a number of times not wanting to be seen as a bad landlord. This is all about manners and trying to be polite but there is a simmering undercurrent slowly growing in Alma that silent anger that is hidden just under the surface we see it building I was reminded of the few books I read by Anne Tyler a writer that also is great at capturing a woman at a certain age that simmers so well like Alma does here. Have you read Hjorth?

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Longest Chapter
    Jun 17, 2020 @ 21:30:39

    I read Will and Testament, curious about the controversy over it being veiled autobiography, and then Vigdis Hjorth’s sister writing a rebuttal novel!! I was drawn in by Will and Testament; I think she’s a good writer, handling well what you mention here, “a simmering undercurrent,” which also is present in Will and Testament.

    Reply

  2. beckylindroos
    Jun 17, 2020 @ 23:49:39

    From what I’ve read here and on Amazon it sounds pretty funny, I know Norwegians and how there are certain “expectations” about how one is supposed to live – “do I the right way – always..” Norwegians are usually passive aggressive but if a real squabble starts look out, I’m sooo tempted to buy it – I’m downloading the Kindle sample now, Thanks for the heads up and the great review1

    Reply

  3. Lisa Hill
    Jun 18, 2020 @ 00:21:49

    I have Will and Testament on my TBR, just rediscovered because I had a computer disaster and have had to re-do my entire TBR file that helps me keep track of what I’ve got on my shelves.
    My new, reconstructed, 100% accurate fiction TBR lists 940 titles… so no wonder I haven’t got round to reading Will and Testament yet!

    Reply

  4. heavenali
    Jun 18, 2020 @ 13:13:46

    I read Will and Testament but to be honest I wasn’t very keen on it. The relationships were portrayed well but something stopped me engaging with it. I can tell she is a good writer though.

    Reply

  5. Trackback: That was the months that was May/June 2020 | Winstonsdad's Blog

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