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Over det kinesiske hav : roman by Gaute…

Over det kinesiske hav : roman

by Gaute Heivoll

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A fascinating story set in 1940s Norway, narrated by the son of a family who take on the responsibility for five 'mentally disabled' children, as well as three adult men, acting in what was called the'Christlike Spirit of Love'. The unnamed narrator reflects back over the life of his family as he empties the house on his mother's death.

Each of the cared for have distinct personalities, and embed themselves into the house in the wood.

A quiet novel with some volatile moments. ( )
  Caroline_McElwee | Feb 12, 2019 |
”I was born in the autumn at the maternity clinic in Asker, and at first I slept in an old orange crate that once had been shipped across the China Sea. Papa had found the crate in the attic above the men’s unit along with old sedan chairs, straightjacket beds, and other paraphernalia from the past.”

This is the story of an unusual upbringing. In 1994, a man is clearing out his boyhood home in Norway after the death of his mother when he finds the contract his father had signed in the waning days of WWII. His parents had agreed to care for five mentally disabled children. They also cared for three mentally disabled men, all “in a Christlike spirit of love.” A house was built to accommodate these desperate individuals, along with the family of four. They became an extended family.

Heivoll writes in spare, poetic prose that maintained a feeling of melancholy throughout. Through beautiful poignant vignettes we learn of the normal interactions with these special individuals and what is possible when you let love lead the way. Even a tragedy that takes place some months after their arrival is handled with delicacy and love. Heivoll also creates a magnificent sense of place. I’ve never been to Norway but I have a picture in my mind now of the snowcapped peaks, deep green forests, and icy blue waters. The innocence of childhood, compassionate adults and the power of memory make this an outstanding novel and one that will remain with me for a long time. Very highly recommended. ( )
1 vote brenzi | May 28, 2018 |
A son returns in 1994 to clean out the family home after the death of his parents. The house itself, its surroundings, rooms and various objects are filled with memories for him. His mama and papa had met working in a psychiatric hospital in the Olso area, and their shared dream was to have a house of their own where they could care for those who could not care for themselves. In late 1944 they built a house and moved themselves and their two small children from Olso south to a more rural area, and contracted with the government in 1945 to house and care for several mentally unstable men and five siblings whose parents were declared unfit.

With warmth and love, and “gentle humor”, the son tells the story– mostly chronologically, but also as memory dictates—of this unusual and unconventional “family”. This is a wonderful book, a compassionate story that will leave the reader with a sense of being changed by it.

This was one of my favorite books of 2017. It’s the second book by Norwegian author Gaute Heivoll that has been translated, after [Before I Burn] (2010, T. 2013); another excellent novel and a favorite book that year. ( )
1 vote avaland | Jan 16, 2018 |
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