Julia, a Swede who teaches English at Berlitz in Vienna, leads a boring single life until she meets Ben, a Canadian man currently living in a bush in a park.
It’s lusty love at first sight for the two of them, though Julia makes Ben take a shower before she’ll kiss him. In this predictable story, she’s embarrassed to let her co-workers know she's dating a homeless guy. She tries to change him, he tries to get her to shake up her cautious life. They fight, he leaves, the rest of the book is about whether Ben will come back and, if so, whether Julia will take him back. Abrahamson’s first adult novel (she has published YA books in Swedish) has its quirky moments, but that charm isn’t enough to compensate for its shortcomings. Julia is an unsympathetic character who gets angry with Ben and tells him how to live his life but isn’t making much effort to pursue goals of her own. She intends to be a writer but can only think of existing plots, possibly because she’s generally watching television, going to clubs, or hanging out with "half-friends," people she doesn't like much. Some scenes, like one where Julia accidentally wanders into Vancouver’s skid row or when she donates plasma, don’t seem to serve any purpose. Others do serve the story but are improbable, such as when Julia goes camping with complete strangers in Canada in a desperate attempt to find someone who might know where Ben is. On the plus side there are pleasant descriptions of Vienna and Viennese food.
Will these mismatched lovers make it? They’re not compelling enough to want to find out.