Spejlet i Poppi by Jan Dybdahl

This is my first encounter with the author Jan Dybdahl. This means that I had no particular expectations of he work, which I often ( consciously or subconsciously) have when I pick up a book by an author I have read before.

This novel is about Viktor Amundsen, an old  Art Historian from Trondheim on the west coast of Norway born during the pre-war time.

First of all, I must thank the author for the wonderful descriptions of the childhood of Viktors. It is great that Jan Dybdahl allows himself to tell this part through the eyes of a child, and with the language of a child. Brilliant!

Particularely the part about young Viktor and his friend Turid is touching. Especially  the accident of Turids, that Viktor feels responsible for, and that is haunting Turid for the rest of her life. Later on, when Viktors older brother dies in a drowning accident. Viktor is secretly accused of causing it by his sloppyness.

Viktors life consists of a number of incidents which all seems planned by someone who wishes him no good. Someone who knows him too well. I will not dig any deeper into them, just read the book,  but somehow they appear far too unreal to me.

Maybe I am moaning too much, but I do want to get the feeling of “this could have happened to me”, which I by no means do in this case. The criminal intrigue does not hold all the way, I am afraid.

Particularely the part about young Viktor and his friend Turid is touching. Especially  the accident of Turids, that Viktor feels responsible for, and that is haunting Turid for the rest of her life. Later on, when Viktors older brother dies in a drowning accident. Viktor is secretly accused of causing it by his sloppyness.

Viktors life consists of a number of incidents which all seems planned by someone who wishes him no good. Someone who knows him too well. I will not dig any deeper into them, just read the book,  but somehow they appear far too unreal to me.

Maybe I am moaning too much, but I do want to get the feeling of “this could have happened to me”, which I by no means do in this case. The criminal intrigue does not hold all the way, I am afraid.

However – the character Victor does! I like him. I see an insecure, miserable and a tiny bit boring old man closing the books, seaking forgivness. He is 100 % real, as are all the other characters as well.

This novel has given me much to think about, many great passages of writing excellence to enjoy.

SO – what is the overall impression? A good book, worthy of reading, however not necessarily as a criminal novel.

My advice, read this novel, absolutely! But try to see  beyond the not so great criminal intrigue!

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