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Stella Descending by Linn Ullmann
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Stella Descending (2001)

by Linn Ullmann

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140485,666 (3.29)3
  1. 00
    The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Laura Chase in The Blind Assassin falls to her death from a bridge over a ravine, just as Stella falls to hers from a roof. The Blind Assassin is concerned with finding out why Laura fell, with newspaper reports given, excerpts from a novel quoted, and passages of narration from Laura's sister -- all out of chronological sequence; just as the cause of Stella's fall is sought through Ullmann's novel by a variety of narrators, with excerpts from a video, all simililarly out of chronological order. Both Stella and Laura act as nurses, and fall prey to unprincipled men. Both novels include a pair of sisters whose mother dies when they are young, leaving the elder girl to take care of the younger; children with absent or unknown fathers; and someone very old, near to their own death, who loved Laura/Stella. Laura's sister fancies, `there was no floor to my room: I was suspended in the air, about to plummet. My fall would be endless -- endlessly down'. Stella's daughter tells her sister, `Mama fell off a roof, Mama's falling still. She falls and falls and never hits the ground'.… (more)
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English (2)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  All (4)
Showing 2 of 2
Another Ullmann book about death, but this death has already happened and the book is about different recostructions of the circumstances of death, but not in the style of a detective (though there is an investigating detective involved). It becaomes the story of a woman subject to everyday but none the less aggressive acts of men, the key point being that they will not leave, and that she is therefore trapped by them. There is an odd surrealism hovering around the edges of the perceptions introduced by the novel, but that never really breaks into the frame, with the effect that the entire novel has a dreamlike quality. The dispassionately presented emotion characteristic of Ullmann's other novels is here developed to the full, without a trace of sentimentality. ( )
  Mijk | Nov 3, 2011 |
Showing 2 of 2
Translated from Norwegian, this book consists of five parts, each called `Fall'. Stella's mother, Edith, insists on standing up to give birth, so Stella `falls down through Edith's birth canal, falls into the world, falls into the splendid old midwife's splendid hands -- but with an unearthly scream that bursts the young nurse's eardrum'. Thirty-five years later (and 130 pages earlier), pregnant with her third child, Stella falls from a high roof to her death -- perhaps pushed off by her husband in the course of one of their curious games. Various narrators consider how it happened or tell stories, some of quite obscure relevance; chiefly, Stella's adolescent daughter, the detective investigating the case, who `can tell by the smell of a man whether he has committed a crime', and a senile friend Stella formerly nursed, whose character may be gauged from his words: `I suppose I do have one joy; there is pleasure for me in music. ... Music tells me there are beings beyond this miserable existence who are willing to speak to us. Unborn children, perhaps, who were meant to have a body, a voice, a life, but who came to nothing, aborted or snuffed out at the moment of conception ...'
In no way could this book dispel the general supposition of Scandinavian gloom.
added by KayCliff | editNew Books, Hazel Bell (May 30, 2014)
 
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MARTIN: Aloittaakseni alusta: on kesä, pian syksy, yö ja tähdet tuikkivat isossa pienessä kaupungissa.
Quotations
Yes, the joy is gone. ... Amanda reminds me that once, a long time ago, I took pleasure in teaching. ... In the end I gave up, grew sardonic and baleful. ... I read a newspaper article in which some old people answered the question: Given the chance, would you live your life over again? Most of them said yes. How could they? How could anyone live his life again? Go through all that toil and trouble again? ... I've never understood how one is supposed to *enjoy* one's family. I was certainly never able to enjoy mine. ... I suppose I do have one joy; there is pleasure for me in music. ... Music tells me there are beings beyond this miserable existence who are willing to speak to us. Unborn children, perhaps, who were meant to have a body, a voice, a life, but who came to nothing, aborted or snuffed out at the moment of conception ...
The midwife hunkers down in front of Edith, preparing to catch the child. And she can see inside Edith now, up into her, way up inside her, and what she sees is big and red and wet, that's you, Stella, and you're screaming even before you come into the world. You fall down through Edith's birth canal, fall into the world, fall into the splendid old midwife's splendid old hands, you fall wide-eyed, long and slender, like a diver from a cliff - but with an unearthly scream that bursts the young nurse's eardrum, with the result that today, 35 years later, she is still deaf in the left ear. Stella: She's gone deaf in the right ear, too. ... I met her through my work... She confirmed that I burst her eardrum the moment I fell into the world. Martin: And what did you say to that? Stella: I said I was sorry.
`I suppose I do have one joy; there is pleasure for me in music. ... Music tells me there are beings beyond this miserable existence who are willing to speak to us. Unborn children, perhaps, who were meant to have a body, a voice, a life, but who came to nothing, aborted or snuffed out at the moment of conception ...'
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330411632, Paperback)

On a warm night in Oslo, Martin draws Stella into one of the risky games that have defined their ten years together: a balancing act on the edge of their rooftop, seven storeys up. Amid the shouts of horrified onlookers, Stella stumbles, falling for a moment into Martin's arms before plummeting to her death. Did he try to save her? This is the question that begins Linn Ullmann's transfixing tale of Stella: a jealous wife, compliant mistress, treasured friend, angelic nurse, unloved daughter, devoted mother, and - finally - a woman possessed of a secret now forever lost to the living.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:35 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

On a warm summer night in Oslo, Martin draws Stella into one of the risky games that have defined their ten years together: a balancing act on the edge of their rooftop, nine stories up. Amid the shouts of horrified onlookers, Stella stumbles, falling for a moment into Martin's arms before plummeting to her death. (Did he try to save her?).… (more)

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