27 April 2010

Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson is the first book I read for the Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2010 hosted by The Black Sheep Dances. If you would like to participate, visit her blog. I would recommend this book as a wonderful place to start your exploration of Scandinavian literature and, while they cannot count for the challenge because I had read them earlier, here are two other books that I really loved that meet the criteria: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Astrid and Veronika. I enjoyed all three books and am anxious to find my next Scandinavian book to read. If you have any suggestions, please leave me a comment.

Now on to my review of Out Stealing Horses. When I was a teen, I loved Henry David Thoreau's Walden and this book reminded me of how Walden made me think and feel about nature. Even if the story told by Petterson had not been engaging, I would have read on to try to capture that feeling of being one with nature.

The novel begins with Trond Sander, our near seventy year old narrator, working on a cabin in the woods in Norway. He is retired and his wife has died so he chose to leave his life behind and move to a cabin where his nearest neighbor, Lars, brings back memories of his youth with his father. Together Trond and his father visited this same area in the 1940s where they worked with locals to fell trees and float them to a sawmill. The story bounces back and forth between these times and over the course of the novel, the reader is drawn into both.

In the present time, Trond hoped to escape his own life to dwell in peace in the woods and depending only on himself. In the past, the reader learns with Trond that his father is part of a resistance movement smuggling Jews from Norway to Sweden. There are other secrets which I will not share - you will need to read the book to learn them.

In the end, Trond finds forgiveness within himself and welcomes the companionship of his daughter but continues to live in solitude, no longer feeling such pangs of lonliness. I loved every minute of this book.

TITLE: Out Stealing Horses
AUTHOR: Per Petterson
COPYRIGHT: 2005 (English translation)
PAGES: 238
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: I loved this book mostly because it reminded me that solitude is not lonely, rather it can be silence for the soul.
AWARDS: British Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (2006), International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (2007)

1 comment:

Jew Wishes said...

Per Petterson is an amazing author, and one who leaves much to ponder in his writings.