August 25, 2001
MarkBernstein.org
 

Hanna's Daughters

Hanna's Daughters
Marianne Fredriksson
This superb portrait of three generations of Swedish women traces the resonance of the dim past through the decades. From Hanna, a Dalsland farmchild and servant in late 19th-century, to her sophisticated Gothenberg grandaughter Anna, we trace the quiet connections that define a family. Tumultuous events, rape and revolution, play their part, but so too do the little details of character -- a weakness for amusing young men, a cheerful acceptance of hard work -- that join mother to daughter and that distinguish a clan from its neighbors. Aside from an occasional jarring thump, Joan Tate's translation does its best with tricky regional nuance. I especially enjoyed this because my wife is Swedish, but it's fascinating to see what has become a familiar Jewish-American genre (see Mona in the Promised Land ) played in a Scandinavian key.