Norwegian author Lindstrøm's somber novel, winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize, centers on an aging couple who would appear to have been fortune's favorites.
He is a retired physician, she a retired teacher. Together for decades, they live in bourgeois comfort, having raised three healthy (and now grown-up) daughters. But Simon is slipping into dementia, and for now, the primary symptom is a nearly unbreachable silence that began to worsen just after the couple felt forced to dismiss the Latvian housekeeper who was the closest thing they had to a friend. In the wake of that departure, the wife, Eva, is left to grapple, in a way increasingly lonely and bereft, with her ever more remote husband and with the burdens of age. Both Eva and Simon have painful secrets, things they haven't confided even to their daughters, but the book is less about the secrets than about the long-term repercussions of secrecy itself. If one's survival strategy is reticence and self-protection, what happens when age and circumstance ratchet up solitude and silence to an unbearable level? Where does one turn? How does one turn? The novel is languidly paced, nearly static, and the prose can sometimes be awkward, but there are moments of emotional intensity, as when Eva drops her husband off at elder–day care and hesitates before she goes, feeling that he might disappear forever when she turns.
An often incisive but slow-paced exploration of the encroachments and isolations of age.