Eventide: A Novel by Therese Bohman

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She had, however, quickly grown accustomed to the pitying looks that said: “Women in their forties don’t dump their partner. You’ve really made a mess of things now.”

Karoline Andersson, art history professor at Stockholm University, has ended her 11 relationship with her partner, growing accustomed to living alone once again. In a period of ‘aimless confusion’, she meets a young post-graduate student Anton Strömberg whom brings to her attention a female artist Ebba Ellis, whose art was erotic, prolific and progressive for her time. Not only that, he claims to have letters and this could be a big break in the world of visual arts. Anton’s confidence is infectious, his youth alluring. Life once seemed to have a sort of purpose with her ex Karl, that soon became a sort of apathy. Now she is adjusting to loneliness and missing that which she shed. The time is ripe to forge ahead, to dig into her work. She’s always felt her best absorbed in her career, less ‘crowded’. There is competitiveness in her field, and she encounters the smug arrogance of one Lennart. Irritated that things require his interest and approval to be ‘worthy’ she is delighted when she has the upper hand with Anton.

Anton and Karoline’s interest in each other goes beyond the Ellis discoveries. Karoline feels illuminated by Anton’s attention, his youth awakens her, and the attraction between them is intoxicating. That he chose her, over all the younger women he could easily have,  proves she isn’t immune to that flattery. If everything is a game, what is her position? Is she safe from deception, betrayal, humiliation? Trouble could follow being involved with someone so young.

This is a story about a woman who never had children, isn’t married and whose entire life has been about work over creating a family. A life of poorly chosen affairs with different types of men and feeling adrift, tired of games in career and her personal life. There is a distance, though, that Karoline feels with men and in many ways the reader too experiences in trying to understand why Karoline is so crushed by life. In her feelings of forced shame, for being unattached, one wonders why it has to be an issue for the rest of the world at all? Karoline opens her eyes, and ‘life goes on.’

It isn’t a novel to make you feel uplifted, and the young hate relating to women like her because they may well fear going through men and life on auto-pilot, aging out, being fooled, disappointed. Who wants to stew in that when you’re fresh with the blush of youth? As to the rest of us, a little more chewed on by the world, Karoline can seem somewhat familiar.

Publication Date: April 10. 2018

Other Press

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Pretend I’m Dead: A Novel by Jen Beagin

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“Sorry,” he said. “I’ve made you uncomfortable with my creepy honesty.” He shook his head again.

“Not at all,” she said. “I’m actually a fan of creepy honesty.”

Mona is in her early twenties, minus all the bright-eyed ambition she’s ‘supposed’ to be filled with. When she isn’t cleaning houses she is handing out clean needles to drug addicts and falling hard for one, a man she calls ‘Mr. Disgusting’  Sharing an elevator in his building with a couple of crackheads should be enough to deter her, but instead she feels like a gift sent down just for him. Of course the ‘older and wiser’ in us thinks, no Mona- what are you doing?! Wayward child! But everyone must be free to make their own mistakes. He has a lot to teach her, full of his own ancient pain, their time together is raw and when it comes to its dramatic conclusion, his vision of her in Taos is the push she needs to head there.

In New Mexico she meets a New Age couple she calls Yoko and Yoko, as they welcome her into their lives she is surrounded by wisdom, healing energy and a lot of passionate hunger in their eyes, or is she reading the signs wrong? Being around both Nigel and Shiori (Yoko and Yoko) and listening to their stories gives rise to her own childhood memories and family. Her father, a man she long ago tried to close off out of her life, is in her head again. Mona finds work again as a cleaner, and among her clients are a woman who collects angels, a ‘supposed’ psychic in a trailer and a single father with a teen daughter she snoops around, confusing everything until she is sure he is guilty of all perverse acts.

Through it all, she is strangely inspired to make an effort, to join the world of the living, to get off her belly and stop feeling sorry for herself. In the beginning Mona is dangerously adrift, too ready to let another lead her, and it’s lucky for her that Mr. Disgusting’s vision of where she belongs forces her on an inner journey of sorts. The characters are all interesting and fun, they are the kind of people who give you pause, who seem so incredibly out there, and yet make more sense than ‘practical folks.’ The sort of people who come into a life just when they are needed most, there is hope. Maybe Mona isn’t doomed to drift through her entire life, after all.

This is a book for the young as much as the old. For the disaffected and the harmonious, for the sarcastic and the courtesy, the healthy and the wounded… okay, okay… just add it to your summer reading list!

Publication Date: May 18, 2018

Scribner