The loving but difficult marriage between chef Siri and blocked writer Jon is challenged during a summer visit on the coast of Norway by the disappearance of their nanny and the wrenching feelings of guilt suffered by everyone associated with her. Original. - (Baker & Taylor)
The loving but difficult marriage between Siri and Jon is challenged during a summer visit on the coast of Norway by the disappearance of their nanny and the wrenching feelings of guilt suffered by everyone associated with her. - (Baker & Taylor)
One of the New York Times Book Review's 100 Notable Books of 2014!
Ullmann’s characters are complex and paradoxical: neither fully guilty nor fully innocent
Siri Brodal, a chef and restaurant owner, is married to Jon Dreyer, a famous novelist plagued by writer’s block. Siri and Jon have two daughters, and together they spend their summers on the coast of Norway, in a mansion belonging to Jenny Brodal, Siri’s stylish and unforgiving mother.
Siri and Jon’s marriage is loving but difficult, and troubled by painful secrets. They have a strained relationship with their elder daughter, Alma, who struggles to find her place in the family constellation. When Milla is hired as a nanny to allow Siri to work her long hours at the restaurant and Jon to supposedly meet the deadline on his book, life in the idyllic summer community takes a dire turn. One rainy July night, Milla disappears without a trace. After her remains are discovered and a suspect is identified, everyone who had any connection with her feels implicated in her tragedy and haunted by what they could have done to prevent it.
The Cold Song is a story about telling stories and about how life is continually invented and reinvented. - (Random House, Inc.)
But something was wrong. Siri held her breath. It had to do with Milla. Or something else. But Milla definitely had something to do with it. Her presence here at Mailund. The slightly lumpish body, the long dark hair (long dark hairs on the kitchen counter, in the bathroom sink, between the sofa and the sofa cushions, on the base-boards and doorframes), her face, sometimes pretty, sometimes not, beseeching eyes.
More and more Siri found herself having to concentrate in order to keep herself in check—was that the expression? Keep oneself in check? Be one. One body, one voice, one mouth, one thread, and not fall apart, dissolve, collapse in a heap.
“Your main responsibility,” Siri said, “will be to look after Liv for five hours or so every day. But we’d be grateful if you’d keep an eye on Alma as well. Alma’s twelve. She’s”—Siri searched for the right word —“a bit of a loner.”
Milla laughed hesitantly, brushed the hair back from her pretty moon face and said that she thought it all sounded really great.
It was a mild, bright day in May and Siri had invited Milla to the house in Oslo. The idea was for them to get to know each other a little better before the summer. Alma was at school, Liv was at nursery school, and Jon had gone for a long walk with Leopold. Something about a chapter he was having trouble writing.
Milla had replied to the ad on the Internet for a summer job and Siri had been taken with her application. In her e-mail she came across as a happy, friendly, reliable girl.It would be fantastic to get to know all of you and be able to be part of your family this summer. If I get the job I’ll do my best to be a good “big sister” to your daughters so that you and your husband won’t have to worry when you’re at work.
Siri and Jon have always enjoyed their summers on the coast of Norway. Although staying with Siri's domineering mother can be difficult, the couple has friends there, and the home holds special meaning from Siri's childhood. That all changes the summer they hire Milla as nanny to their youngest daughter. Milla's presence adds to the already growing distance between Siri and Jon and unlocks a restlessness in Siri. Then, on the night of a party no one wanted Siri to throw, Milla disappears. Throughout the ensuing search and subsequent murder investigation, the story flits through time, space, and narrators, clearly envisaging the turmoil of all those involved. In her fifth novel, Ullman demonstrates her expertise in inhabiting the minds of complex characters, including Milla's grieving parents; a neighbor who may have been the last to see Milla alive; Siri's aging mother; Siri's elder daughter, who has a violent temper; and, of course, the beleaguered couple, Siri and Jon. Readers who appreciate an unconventional narrative flow will find this a deeply moving story of troubled relationships and unsettled memories. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.