Some Of Kind Company by Nan Östman

Some Kind of Company by Nan Östman

Swedish Fiction

Original Title –  Ett slags sällskap

Translator – Julia Rivers

Source – Review copy

I am always happy when I get approached by a new Publisher. Aspal Prime is a new small publisher that has brought out the later life novel of Swedish writer Nan Östman a writer best known for writing children’s fiction. In her earlier fiction, the was a recurrent theme of English Culture and Literature.  also girls and women Apart from some detective fiction she wrote with her husband. Her children’s books were the most borrowed books from Swedish libraries in the ’80s. She published this book when she was well in her seventies an observance of someone of similar age to her. This was the first time she had ventured into Adult fiction she published another adult after that she passed away in her nineties in 2015.

I must make one thing clear straight away, even if it sounds foolish. I believe people can advertise for almost anything in Personal ads and others will reply. So, as the English say – No sex please. I think it sounds a bit less clumsy and a little more nonchalant in English, Though stillsilly. But it’s best to say it straight out. There are men who are still virile well into old age( according to what I have read and heard) and  I believe specialist erotica for old people is now available in books and films. Well I am quite prudish and have nothing to offer a hungry old man in that respect.

In her first reply to Bo she makes it clear what she is after a platonic thing.

The book follows a woman in her seventies that is maybe a classic example of an empty nester her kids have gone and Marieanne’s marriage to Hakan has reached that point where they are two ships in the night a lot of the love has gone and there is a silence in their life. She is a translator and is worried that at some point her work may dry up and then where would she be. So she decides to take out an advert for a penpal a male friend to write with she gets a reply from a widower Bo and the two start talking he is an archivist and lost his wife as the two chat Anne is cagey at first about Hakan and their situation but as they talk we see how there life is and what it is like growing old. This is a book about the later part of life and what happens when those nearest become distant or as in Bo’s case aren’t there. It is a tale of being stuck in later life on the inside of loneliness and loveless marriage. she has it all but inside the marriage, it is a very different story. Hakan is a difficult man a quiet man that has lost his wife.

Dear Archivist

You seem to be more interested in Hakan than in me! And it feel as though you are taking his part, That is understandable, It is hardly  a recomendation of me that I have driven my husband to silence, That is what you think, isn’t it, even if tou don’t say it out loud.

The fact is that I don’t discuss Hakan with unkown people and barely with those I do know. We shall see later if it is possible for you to qualify as being someone who can be confided in, first you have to actualy make some effort.

Later he asks aboth her and Hakan but she is cagey at first about their marriage and what had happened to it.

This is one of the reasons I love smaller publishers and their ability to maybe take chances on books that the larger publishers wouldn’t. Now Nan Östman is a very well-known writer in her time and this was one of those rare gems of a writer take a chance and producing a great book in later life. One imagines maybe a lot of Anne’s world is that of the writer herself the comfortable but the life the Anne and Hakan have is far from that inside. What we have is a view of later life Marriage a book about when two older lonely souls connecting her and Bo meet and their shared loneliness is an insight. I enjoyed this book it is very different from all the other Nordic books I have read. As the translator says in the intro Nan uses her own life and her view of Swedish society. At its heart is Loneliness and how we deal with it they are both examples of people that in later life can be lonely the widower that lost his wife early and the empty nester with the Husband that has drifted away from her.

Winstons Score – -A , a hidden gem rediscovered and a perfect first read for Woman in translation month.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Hill
    Aug 04, 2021 @ 05:44:44

    As you say, a different slant on old age:)

    Reply

  2. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Aug 04, 2021 @ 14:15:50

    It does indeed sound a hidden gem!

    Reply

  3. Trackback: That was the month that was August 2021 | Winstonsdad's Blog

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