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Hanna's Daughters: A Novelby Marianne Fredriksson
Synopses & Reviews
Her mind was as clear as a winter's day, a day as quiet and shadowless as if snow had just fallen. Harsh sounds penetrated, the clatter of dropped enamel bowls and cries. It frightened her. Like the weeping from the next bed slicing into the whiteness.
There were many who cried where she was.
She had lost her memory four years ago, then only a few months later her words had disappeared. She could see and hear, but could name neither objects nor people, so they lost all meaning.
That was when she came to this white country where time was nonexistent. She didn't know where her bed was or how old she was, but she had found a new way of being and appealed for compassion with humble smiles. Like a child. And like a child, she was wide open to emotions, everything vibrating between people without words.
She was aware she was going to die. That was knowledge, not an idea.
Her family were those who kept her going.
Her husband came every day. He also was wordless but for different reasons: He was over ninety, so he, too, was near the borderline, but he had no wish either to die or to know about it. Just as he had always controlled his life and hers, he put up a fierce struggle against the inevitable. He massaged her back, bent and stretched her knees, and read aloud to her from the daily paper. She had no means of opposing him. They had had a long and complicated relationship.
Most difficult of all was when their daughter, who lived in another town, came to visit. The old woman knew nothing of time or distance, and was always uneasy before she came, as if the moment she woke at dawn, she had already sensed the car making its way through the country, at the wheel the woman with all her unreasonable hopes.
Anna realized she was being as demanding as a child. That was no help, and as soon as she gave in, her thoughts slid away: just for once, perhaps, an answer to one of the questions I never had time to ask. After almost five hours of driving, as she turned into the nursing home parking lot, she had accepted that her mother would not recognize her this time, either.
Yet she would ask the questions.
I do it for my own sake, she thought. It makes no difference what I talk about to her.
She was wrong. Johanna did not understand the words, but she was aware of her daughter's torment and her own powerlessness. She did not remember it was her task to console the child who had always asked unreasonable questions. Still, the demand remained as well as the guilt over her inadequacy.
Her desire was to escape into silence, to close her eyes, but she couldn't, her heart thumping, the darkness behind her eyelids scarlet and painful. She started crying. Embarrassed, Anna tried to console her, there, there, wiping the old woman's cheeks.
When she was unable to halt Johanna's despair, Anna became frightened and rang for help. As usual, there was a delay, then the fair girl was standing in the doorway, a girl with young eyes but no depth in them. Anna saw contempt in those blue eyes, and for a moment Anna could see what the girl saw: an older woman, anxious and clumsy, by the side of the really old one.
There, there, she said, too, but her voice was hard, as hard as the hand that ran over the old woman's head. And yet she succeeded. Johanna fell asleep so suddenly, it seemed unreal.
We mustn't upset the patients, sai
Sweeping through one hundred years of Scandinavian history, this luminous story follows three generations of Swedish women--a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter--whose lives are linked through a century of great love and great loss. Resonating with truth and revelation, this moving novel deftly explores the often difficult but enduring ties between mothers and daughters, the sacrifices, compromises, and rewards in the relationships between men and women, and the patterns of emotion that repeat themselves through generations. If you have ever wanted to connect with the past, or rediscover family, Hanna's Daughters will strike a chord in your heart. . . .
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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