• Friday, December 16th, 2016

Marianne Fredriksson was born in Göteborg, Sweden in 1927 and died suddenly in Österskär in 2007. She worked and lived in Roslagen and Stockholm and had two children. Before becoming a full-time writer in the eighties, Fredriksson worked as a journalist for various Swedish newspapers and later became editor-in-chief for the magazine, Everything In The Home, which was followed by her launching two other successful magazines.

Marianne Fredriksson wrote fifteen novels and three non-fiction books. Hanna’s Daughters, published in Swedish in 1994 and in English in 1999, was awarded the Author Of The Year Award and Book Of The Year Award in 1994. It was a best seller and has been translated into several other languages.

The story begins in the nineteen eighties in Stockholm with Anna, the middle-aged journalist, who is visiting her mother, Johanna, on her death bed in hospital. After the visit, Anna returns to her parents’ home and tries to reconnect with her family’s past in order to find answers to many questions that trouble her.

She starts by searching her shady memory as well as in cupboards and drawers in the hope of finding clues among old photographs, faded letters and battered diaries in order to unfold the family history which will help her paste the past together and feel at peace with her mother as well as with herself. She is seeking to attain happiness and contentment by reconstructing her ancestral legacy.

After a brief introduction, Fredriksson takes her readers on a journey back to late nineteenth century Sweden in a small village called Bräten, close to the Norwegian border. She begins with the story of the matriarch and most endearing character, Hanna, born in 1871, followed by Johanna, her daughter, born in 1902 and the story ends where it started in the nineteen eighties with her grand-daughter Anna. Three Swedish women, who will experience and be affected by the major economical and political events of their time. They are from three different generations but their stories are cleverly intertwined by the author. They have three dissimilar as well as similar destinies, the three of them have strong characters and uneasy marriages.

In this complex family saga there are moments of contentment, some ephemeral happiness and much suffering and hardship leaving emotional bruises. There are also many sacrifices as well as disappointments. We have the stories of these women’s love, thoughts, desires along with their hopes. Additionally, the author depicts the difficult and complicated as well as binding relationships between mothers and daughters.

The characters are rich and well portrayed. Men are represented in a negative way – they are abusive, sexist, rapist, alcoholic and philanderers while women are shown as hard-working, pragmatic and determined. Although men and women live side by side they don’t understand each other. There seems to be a barrier dividing them and they appear unable to find ways of communicating with one another.

Hanna’s Daughters is a deep reflection and faithful description of women through the ages, their relationships with others and their will to overcome patriarchal domination in order to gain their independence and find their place in the unjust world they live in and feel suppressed by.

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Category: Book Reviews
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