Books by Marika Cobbold

FROZEN MUSIC by Marika Cobbold
Released: Nov. 1, 1999

Swedish author Cobbold (The Purveyor of Enchantment, 1998, etc.) offers another winning discourse on relationships, once again distinguished by her piercing humor and incisive perspective on the usually skewed path of human interaction. The opening pages flip-flop between two children, a terminally sullen London girl and a dreamy Swedish boy connected only by the correspondence of their mothers. Perpetually astonished by the idiocy of adults, Esther dreams of looking into the minds of others, while Linus draws a more perfect world. He grows up to be a scatter-brained genius haunted by a desolate childhood; she remains the same cynical charmer, fangs in the bosom of her strange family. When the two meet some two hundred pages into their own story, Esther is a journalist fighting to save pensioners from the wheels of progress, Linus the architect whose opera house is to replace the old couple's cottage. Despite these inauspicious circumstances, the two are primed for love: Linus is sad and alone after the break-up of his marriage, Esther convinced that romance is a pretty shady concept. Though things go well in their first encounter, the situation deteriorates as the pair's individual codes of ethics do battle. But when Esther is sent to Linus's summer house to nurse her vacationing mother's broken hip, she falls madly (and we do mean madly) in love with him. Too bad her paper's publicity has ruined his dream of the opera house. Too bad that the perfect Pernilla is always hanging about. Too bad that someone in the family is trying to poison Linus's father. Esther, the novice in love, enacts a variety of amusing schemes to win her man's heart, including ye olde message in a bottle, but not until they both return to England does the triad of all true romance—malice, passion, love—begin to bloom. A large cast and bizarre subplots (Linus's oddball family, Esther's breakdown in a London cafÇ) make for an engaging read, that, with any luck, should broaden Cobbold's audience. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 9, 1998

In this light, endearing story of love and modern anxiety, second-novelist Cobbold (Guppies for Tea, 1994) peoples an English village with characters worth getting to know. Inadvertently trapped with Mr. Scott in his attic, Clementine is compelled to explain why she and his son parted company. Starting at the beginning, we learn of 36-year-old Clementine's inheritance of the house next door, once belonging to poor old Aunt Elvira. She moves into the house with her younger sister, Ophelia, and almost immediately proceeds to dither. Clementine is the champion of all worriers, a devoted reader of the newspaper's crime page, the queen of evasive action. Recently divorced from a Swedish painter, she plans on giving piano lessons by day and continuing on with Aunt Elvira's major work, the compilation of fairy tales, by night. Working from her aunt's notes, Clementine intends to polish and publish the fairy tales as a reminder to the hustling modern world of an older, gentler, better way of life. And how fortuitous to have Prince Charming living next door as a role model—namely, Nathaniel Scott, a successful photojournalist, who's temporarily staying with his father to dry out. Clementine falls head over heels, and Nathaniel warmly reciprocates the affection, until Clementine's worry and pessimism spike the growing romance. Heartbroken when sister Ophelia starts courting Nathaniel, Clementine vows to slay her dragons and face the myriad fears that engulf her. She walks around the town after midnight. She works hard to be less fussy. And she begins to speak her mind. Her newborn frankness provides the greatest shock; best friend Jessica and Ophelia can't understand why meek, fretting Clementine can no longer be pushed around. Clementine, an unlikely heroine, undergoes a believable, moving alteration as she acts to shake off the past and pursue the future. Full of fun and wit and keen insight—an ideal fireside read. Read full book review >
GUPPIES FOR TEA by Marika Cobbold
Released: July 20, 1994

A first novel that takes a memorable look at the stranger into which age and illness can transform a person. Recently, Selma Merryman lost her husband and gained speed in her descent into senile dementia. Selma's son, Robert, shipped mother off to Cherryfield retirement home, sold her house, and set out for Brazil—leaving his sister, Dagmar Lindsay, and Dagmar's daughter, Amelia, to deal with Selma. Whether she is charming or irascible, confused or lucid, Selma loathes Cherryfield and insists on returning to the home she thinks is still hers. Dagmar is all but useless: She is focused on herself, busily coping with an almost debilitating obsession with cleanliness that dominates her continuously disinfected life. It is Amelia who visits the ``large, malfunctioning child'' her grandmother is becoming and who whisks Selma off to Abbotslea (where Amelia lives with country solicitor Gerald Forbes) after a disturbing episode in which the Cherryfield powers-that-be boil the home's fish tank full of guppies. When the pair arrives at Abbotslea, it becomes clear that Gerald has been planning a surprise that is every bit as unpleasant as boiled guppies. Nevertheless, Amelia affectionately (and sometimes frustratedly) stands by her grandmother, with whom even a trip to the supermarket can be an adventure, until Selma, forgetting that she gave up smoking in 1959, sets herself on fire. With Selma hospitalized and in worse shape than ever, Amelia recognizes that a return to Cherryfield is inevitable. But how will she be able to fulfill her grandmother's fondest wish, which is to spend Christmas in the home where she spent most of her life? By keeping Amelia short of sainthood and by judiciously exploiting a sense of the absurd, Cobbold positions her tale on a scrap of territory between the maudlin and the farcical and makes it delightful. Read full book review >