Än Finns Det Hopp (There is Still Hope)
Author: Karin Wahlberg
Publisher: Wahlström Widstrand
Genre: Historical Fiction
Synopsis: This book tells the story of several inhabitants of a small Swedish town in the 1950s. All of the characters are in some way connected to the local hospital.
Thoughts: This was a very quiet book. No real big revelations. No big, climactic events. But rather a gentle wave of events that climaxed at different times. Each of the characters had their own climactic event, often including the others in some way.
This book tells the story of when the polio epidemic was at its height in Sweden, before the vaccine becomes available. Considering the current debate about vaccines in the world I think books like this one are important because they tell the story of how it was before. Before we had easily available, safe vaccines.
Of the different stories told and the different characters some get more space. Nancy, the doctors wife feels like she doesn't quite fit in to her own social sphere. She grew up in the working classes and "married up" and has problems fitting in with the other doctors wives...or well she doesn't really want to fit in, it is hard to define. She just doesn't fit.
Carl, the young doctor who works on the infectious disease ward has his own problems. He is the low man on the totem pole as he isn't quite qualified. In addition he has to worry about his fiances family, she is fine and does not care about class, but her parents are a different story.
The different stories are weaved together in a great way, with the different characters coming in and out of each others lives at different times in the story. This weaving means that at no point does the story feel disjointed. It flows along nicely. This flow is aided by the fact that you never know how much time has passed between the different events. The story starts with the first day of school in the fall and ends in November, but that is the only fixed times you get. At first I found this a bit annoying but then I really came to appreciate it. It means you focus more on the relationships and less on time. I also think that in some ways it mirrors the days in a hospital where they can float together so that in some respects you lose track of time. I base this on my own work at a nursing home.
The next book in the series is due out later this month and I shall be stalking the library's e-book site.
Although this is a good book, it isn't a book I think will be translated to English. It is a bit to Swedish in its subject matter. Although the fear of polio is universal it isn't universal enough that the setting will fit readers in other countries.
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