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Hanna's Daughters (1994)
by Marianne Fredriksson
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Here's what I wrote in 2008 about this read: "A good read; grandmothers, daughters, granddaughters . . Their histories, complexities, misunderstandings, relationships. Some good insights into Scandanavian culture. Originally written in Swedish; glad it made it into English." ( )
Hanna's Daughters is a novel of 3 generations of Swedish women.
Hanna, the daughter of peasant family, although raped as a young servant, married an ambitious miller and moved into the country gentry. But as the country moved into the 20th century, the agricultural economy languished, and when Hanna's husband died, the family was forced to move to Goteborg and learn to make their way in the city. Johanna, Hanna's daughter, after a disastrous stint in domestic service with a doctor's family, worked in a delicatessen and joined the Social Democrats as a young woman. She married a dashing young carpenter who took her sailing and bought her a house with a garden. However, it was not until after WWII, when she returned to work, earning her own money, that she felt secure and respected. She had mixed feelings when her daughter Anna went off to university and moved within the bourgeosie, the class she had despised since her youth. Anna supported herself as a writer even after her divorce from her adored, but womanizing, husband. It is Anna who delves into the stories of her mothers and grandmothers, revealing generations of secrets.
The summary sounds a bit like a soap opera, and Fredriksson sometimes resorts to stereotypes -- but the novel weaves in a century of Swedish history with a compelling family history. She skillfully navigates different narrative voices as she moves back and forth within the generations.
As a fourth-generation Swedish immigrant from families of strong women, I identified with the familial patterns and expectations. It's probably not a book for everyone, but the women in my family loved it.
This is a family saga with many twists and turns, one to keep you going.
Anna, Hanna och Johanna är en roman om tre generationer kvinnor; dotter, mor och mormor. De föds och lever i tider som förändras men ändå finns där likheter mellan deras levnadsöden. Romanen är en stark kvinnoskildring som skildrar levnadsvillkoren från sent 1800-tal och fram till modern tid.
Anna has returned from visiting her mother. Restless and unable to sleep, she wanders through her parents' house, revisiting the scenes of her childhood. In a cupboard drawer, folded and pushed away from sight, she finds a sepia photograph of her grandmother, Hanna, who she remembers as old and forbidding, a silent stranger enveloped in a huge pleated black dress. Now, looking at the features Anna recognises as her own, she realises she is looking at a different woman from the one of her memory. Set against the majestic isolation of the Scandinavian lakes and mountains, this is more than a story of three Swedish women. It is a moving testament of a time forgotten and an epic romance in every sense of the word.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)839.7374 — Literature German and Germanic Literature in other Germanic languages Swedish literature Swedish fiction 1900-1999 1945-1999
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