Leena Lander: Liekin lapset [Children of the flames]

23 June 2010 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Liekin lapset
[Children of the flames]
Helsinki: Siltala, 2010. 419 p.
ISBN 978-952-231-022-1
€ 27.30, hardback

Novels by Leena Lander (born 1959) have been translated into more than 20 languages. Liekin lapset is a family saga, told in two parallel timelines. One is a portrait of a small coastal community in south-western Finland from the turn of the 20th century up to the end of the Finnish civil war in 1918 and the years following it. Life in the area is governed by a sawmill and a manor, socially dividing the community in two. Saida, Joel, Anders and Arvi grow up together, the future workers dreaming of socialism and the sons of the manor playing warlords. In the contemporary strand of the story, Sakari Salin, Saida’s grandson, begins researching his grandmother’s life. The documents reveal some rather remarkable events: here, the author defends the rights of those who were on the losing side in the civil war and creates a lively – as well as historically grounded – portrait of the times. The dialogues and characters in this novel work well, and the structure supports a complex system of psychosocial interconnections, in which the present finds an explanation in the past.

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