Fabulous Fiction Firsts #327
True * is author Riikka Pulkkinen's first novel available in English. A graduate of the University of Helsinki, she received the Kaarle Prize and the Laila Hirvisaari Prize in 2007 for her first novel The Border.
Haunting and melancholic, True is forty years of family secrets and untold history, gradually teased out through the voices of the three generations of the Ahlqvist women. Elsa, a world-renowned child psychologist is dying. Daughter Ella, a brutally efficient physician and granddaughters Anna and Maria are struggling to cope, but have accepted Elsa's wishes to spend her remaining days at home. When Elsa proposes a dress-up picnic in the spring sunshine, Anna pulls out a lovely dress hidden for decades in a closet - a dress that belongs to Eeva, her mother's nanny. Eeva's forgotten story, whom her grandparents have been silent about for years, is finally revealed layer by layer through Elsa's painful recounting and Anna's probing, and resonates with her own loss. As Eeva once observed : "Love is always true".
"Pulkkinen has a fine eye for description and infuses her characters with longing". "The emotional intelligence of the prose avoids melodrama to develop authentic poignancy." A fine writer to watch.
"Beautifully translated by Lola M. Rogers to capture the full chill of a Finnish winter and the lightness of its spring,"
* = Starred review