Ulla-Lena Lundberg: Is [Ice]

1 November 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Helsingfors: Schildts & Söderströms, 2012. 364 p.
ISBN 978-951-52-2987-8
€ 23.25, hardback
Finnish translation:
Helsinki: Teos & Schildts & Söderströms, 2012. 365 p.
Suomennos [Translated by]: Leena Vallisaari
ISBN 978-951-851-475-9
€ 28.40, hardback

Ulla-Lena Lundberg (born on the island of Kökar, Åland, 1947) is already the author of an extensive list of award-winning books, but her new novel Is (‘Ice’) is undoubtedly her most impressive work. It is written in a classic genre, an epic bound by time and place, in which the sensitive portrayal of characters and details takes a strongly ethical direction. Is describes life in a outer archipelago in the late 1940s, where a young priest arrives with his small family. In his calling he is a man devoted to the Word: helpful, friendly, naïvely unsuspecting in his philanthropy. His wife is cast in a different mould: a practical, at times apparently emotionless survivor, who runs a large household single-handed. The couple becomes part of the community of small islands and its harsh living conditions. At times the ice that shuts the island off from the outside world melts into freedom, only to lapse again into a cold that rudely limits human destinies. Barren nature and a community spirit reverting to early Christianity take the measure of each other in the novel’s dramatic events.
Translated by David McDuff