Sonata for Miriam
Penguin, 2009 (2009)
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Reviewed by Barbara Lingens
n this beautifully written work the consequences of silence are explored. (Author Linda Olsson explains that in fact
the consequence of silence
was her working title for the novel.) Adam, born in Poland, transplanted to Sweden as a young boy during World War II, and now living in New Zealand with his daughter, is trying to put his past together so he can learn how to face the future.
is heritage was shrouded in silence, and he has provided his daughter with no knowledge of her background. Then, very late, he begins to understand how important it is fill the silence. His search takes him to Poland and Sweden. He is fortunate to find people who can help him fill the gaps in his knowledge. A pivotal character in the novel is Cecilia, the mother of Adam's daughter. We know very little about her until the last part of the novel, when it is her voice that tells her story.
lsson is Swedish but writes in English. She has the gift of moving the plot along without a lot of explanation but with a good amount of detail. As a result we cannot help but be drawn in to the story. Since Adam is a musician, this provides Olsson another means of expression for the novel and its characters. In a talk by the author I was fortunate to attend, she mentioned that a Swedish composer had been commissioned to write the adagio that Adam composes in the novel. It is a measure of how moving the work is. In
Sonata for Miriam
Olsson has, I think, created and loved two very difficult characters.
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