The story opens with Ole returning, drunk and disorderly, to his first wife, Susanna and her sister, having been thrown out by his second wife, Nanna. She had grown tired of him and moved on to a new relationship with a colleague. Nanna has a very tight prenuptial in place
and Ole finds himself ruined and on the street. Susanna impatiently allows him to stay in the garden cottage to sort himself out.
Events lurch along in drunken escapades, revealing the complicated relationships that arise between men and women, their children and their children’s lovers, exacerbated by alcohol abuse. There are touching scenes amongst the darkly ironic humour that make this a lively romp through Copenhagen’s upper and lower economic strata.
Susanna plays the aloof puppeteer’s role in all this. She has dealt a cold hand to start with,
but sometimes, destiny has a surprising card up her sleeve.
SUSANNA, by Lise Muusman, is an entertaining novella that takes a peek behind closed doors into the lives of the well-heeled society of Copenhagen and its northern suburbs. Ole is a colourful character
whose crime is a passionate love of life and he is addicted to all the pleasurable things life has to offer.
Led by his unruly member, he blunders into catastrophic situations with women and tries to anaesthetise it all with drink. He is on a fast downward spiral.
Muusmann’s writing is strong and accomplished, the action is well-paced, the style is clear and uncluttered and the dialogue crisp, with an energy of its own. The plot is steady and develops well, with plenty of interesting twists and surprises to keep the reader turning the page, even if it is just to see how far one person can fall. The characters develop as the story unfolds and we feel sympathy for the roguish Ole, but also for his first wife Susanna, who pays a high price.
I recommend this cautionary tale as a great holiday read, and a delight for those who enjoy Fiction Noir.
- A Skjold, journalist Radio NZ
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