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Red Winter


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Red Winter back

Anneli Furmark

Price: 
16.98

Page 45 Review by Stephen

"I have to go. It's late."
"Siv, when can I see you again? We're not done talking."
"I'll call you when I can."

That won't be easy.

Siv and Ulrik are in love. Ulrik is single and only twenty-four, but Siv is thirty-eight, married, with a son of fourteen called Peter and two younger children, Lars and Marita. They live in big, squat concrete block of flats in subarctic Sweden. Ulrik lodges with Ralf, his local Communist party leader. Such a dalliance as Ulrik and Siv's would be looked down on sternly, especially given Siv's status as Social Democrat. There would be repercussions.

"Hello, comrades!"
"Hi, Ralf!"
"No, no. You answer, Hello, comrade!
"Hello, comrade!"
"Ha ha can't you tell I'm joking?"

Not really.

"New sweater? Did your mom knit it?"
"Yes."

Calling each other isn't easy; the opportunities to meet, few and far between. The secretive couple's current options and future prospects are limited and bleak. Instead Siv pours her heart out in a badly hidden journal; Ulrik professes his passion in love letters he never sends.

Peter spends too much time in the back of a car owned and driven by delinquents, one of whom doesn't really like him.

Lars is often out at practice and Dad works long hours, so when Siv sneaks out for her assignations, Marita is left alone to experiment with adult toiletries and Tampax. She may rummage through drawers, but she probably won't understand what she finds there.

Poor Siv.

This is a quiet book; a sad, dark, stark mid-winter book as cold as its climate and Ulrik's humourless, intransigent, dogmatic, revolutionary associates. I'm guessing from the fashions - and in particular from a knitting pattern for a jumper with stripes the colours of a Zoom ice lolly - that this is set in the seventies; it's certainly before the dissolution of the U.S.S.R..

But - and this is vital - the sense of both time and place are enveloping, and the colours emanating from the perfunctory, concrete blocks of flats glow with a yolk-yellow warmth against the black and pale blue night. The same light illuminates the family table from under a central shade, and burgundies are deployed on that table's cloth, the occasional skirt, shirt and jumper, and Marita's woollen hat and jeans.

For maximum immersion, I heartily recommend you read it after dark

"What do we do now? When can I see you again?"
"I'll call you when I can."

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