Everybody carries baggage and may need to forget the past to get ahead, “Oublier son passé” by Karin Alvtegen

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This is another recent novel from Sweden. It yet has to be published in English. When it does it will carry the title “A Probable Story”, which carries a different connotation than the French title which reads like “Forgetting One’s Past”. A Probable Story sound to me like any story can be interpreted in a variety of ways and any interpretation carries a probability of being close to the truth, hence it is a “probable story”. And this may indeed describe part of the situation described in the book where a woman on the verge of being divorced has a very different interpretation of the evolution of her marriage than her husband does and is totally taken by surprise when he decides to leave. There is a lot of discussion in this book of the interpretation of facts, of narrow-minded or provincial thinking, of the acceptance of difference.

There is also a strange collision of destinies between people variously damaged by life:

–          Helena, about to be divorced and the child of an alcoholic mother, which grew up in penury (both materially and emotionally), found happiness and fulfillment with Martin, until her partially-made up world collapses when he leaves.

–          Anders, a rich self-made business man, who survives a suicide attempt and tries to find new meaning in his life by accepting a painting contract for Helena’s country hotel without revealing who he really is.

–          Anna-Karin, a childhood friend of Helena, who suffered from feeling compelled to stay in the country and has a inferiority complex because of this, which comes out in a mean negative attitude towards anyone and anything which does not conform to her established ways (including her homosexual son).

–          Verner, an eccentric man who lives in a decrepit shack in the forest on Anna-Karin’s property. He turns out to be the love child of Anna-Karin’s aunt, a former famous painter, and a former sailor.

The end of the book is fairly open-ended. I would have expected more resolution at the end, but then it is also nice to imagine how life can go on for all characters.

Reference:

Alvtegen, Karin. Oublier son passé. JC Lattès, 2012. (published in Swedish in 2010 by Alvtegen production AB)

Other sites:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karin_Alvtegen

http://www.karinalvtegen.com/about-karin-alvtegen

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