AGNES CECILIA by Maria Gripe
Kirkus Star


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After a long interval, here's an intriguing, beautifully written novel from the fine Swedish author of The Green Coat (1977). Traumatized by her parents' tragic death early in her childhood and by her relatives' subsequent denial that it occurred--which deprived her of mourning--Nora is a withdrawn, solitary 14-year-old whose only real friend is Dag, the cousin whose family has raised her. After the family moves to a new apartment, Nora becomes aware of a ghostly presence; there are other mysterious occurrences, like wrong numbers that coincidentally save her from accidents. Another strange telephone call leads to Nora's receiving a lovely old doll that turns out to have links with Nora's family's past, with her new home--and, ultimately, with a cousin her own age whose existence has been concealed from her. Like a Bergman film, this exquisitely crafted, multileveled story explores its theme through past events that both parallel and underlie the angst of the present. Though the characters are many, their roles are well defined and their stories deftly linked. Daringly, Gripe uses multiple coincidences to underline the supernatural element here and to accentuate the characters' complex bonds. A satisfying mystery--as well as a fascinating philosophical novel concerning abandonment, family ties, and self-realization.

Pub Date: May 10th, 1990
Page count: 282pp
Publisher: Harper & Row