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Fredrik Welin is a reclusive ex-surgeon living alone on a tiny island in the north of Sweden. His only companions are a pair of aged pets, and the only society callers to his living room are ants that are transforming his table into an enormous anthill. Every morning, the loner goes out to the frozen lake, cuts a hole in the ice, and then plunges himself into the freezing water to remind himself that he is still alive. Four women enter his life: Harriet, his ex, whom he abandoned years ago; Louise, his unknown daughter; Agnes Klarstrom, the patient who ended his medical career; and Sima, a troubled young woman.
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