Two stories on the impact of climate change intersect in this thoughtful and suspenseful novel.
In 2017, feisty Norwegian journalist and environmental activist Signe, “an aging woman, a little shabby and unkempt in a worn-out parka,” returns to a hometown that has been changed for the worse by the building of a dam that harnesses what used to be a beautiful waterfall to produce hydroelectric power. A nearby glacier is vanishing, and to add insult to injury, Signe's estranged lover Magnus, now a capitalist, is sending large quantities of the ice to Saudi Arabia as a luxury item. With the help of a sailboat she has owned since childhood, Signe conceives a plan to shame Magnus. Her story alternates with that of 25-year-old David, who, in 2041 France, has been forced to take up residency with his 6-year-old daughter, Lou, in a refugee camp for those attempting to escape a drought that has been going on for five years. He is hoping against hope that his wife and infant son will join them there and that then they will be able to make their way to the “water countries” up north, but they haven't been seen since the fire that destroyed their town. Both halves of the story are convincingly detailed and quietly wrenching, and Norwegian author Lunde (The History of Bees, 2017) gradually and subtly draws them together to powerful effect. Signe's story moves between her earlier life, clearly revealing how it shaped the woman she is, and her present struggles as she navigates a tiny sailboat on the ocean. David's story widens out to include other residents in the camp as it slides into an increasing state of chaos and as David and Lou begin to come to terms with a new normal and find their way out of the camp and into the countryside.
Global problems soundly grounded in the particular.