A World Gone Mad by Astrid Lindgren ****
Astrid Lindgren’s wartime diaries, which only became available to the public in 2013, have been translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death. It is fascinating to view the Second World War from the perspective of a housewife – and later an incredibly writer, publishing her beloved Pippi Longstocking close to the war’s end – in a neutral country; thus far, I have largely read accounts like this one from either Western of Eastern Europe, and a Northern perspective was rather refreshing.
It goes without saying that Lindgren writes incredibly well, and the translation has been handled both competently and admiringly. Many of the entires are rather short, and not every day is covered, but the whole is perhaps all the more compelling for it. Lindgren discusses what has happened in the wider world at any given time, as well as closer to home; how rationing does not affect the Swedes, for instance, but all she has read from elsewhere is focused upon the shortages of even basic foodstuffs. A great amount of emphasis is placed upon Scandinavia, and the effects upon it. Lindgren’s diaries are a real joy to read.
What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn ****
O’Flynn has been on my radar for quite some time. I was undecided about which book of hers I would begin with, and chose this only because my boyfriend had a copy of it (although he doesn’t know where it came from, it must be said). From the very beginning, I did like Kate’s character; she intrigued me. I definitely preferred the sections which included her to those with Lisa and Kate, et al.; whilst in retrospect I can see that they were pivotal to the plot, they failed to come to life for me in quite the same way. What Was Lost is well written and well pieced together; I’m surprised it’s a novel which hasn’t been more hyped up, if I’m honest.