Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review: Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

I'm a bit behind on my book reviews, so you may see a few of these in a row!

This was my October book club pick at the library.  It was unlike anything that I was expecting.  It is the story of Trond Sander and one desperate, enlightening, fantastic, coming-of-age summer in a cabin on a river with his dad.

As the story begins, an aging Trond has moved to a small cabin in a rural Norwegian village.  His goal is to live his last years in peace and isolation.  However, the cabin, its surroundings, and the inhabitants of the village bring back strong memories of his last summer with his father.  The story flows back and forth between the 67 year-old hermit-like Trond and the 15 year-old boy who was fascinated with his enigmatic father and the secrets that defined him.  Over the course of one summer, life changes dramatically for Trond.  It is this summer that becomes the dividing point between child and man and it is this summer in which Trond seems to be forever trapped.

This is not an action-packed, page turner type book.  It is densely written and contemplative.  I did find it very interesting, at times amusing and at times sorrowful.  The setting and imagery are beautifully told and it relates a little-known aspect of World War II history.  Sometime in the upcoming winter, when the wind is howling and a fire is burning, curl up with a cup of tea and head to Norway to go "out stealing horses."

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