A Summer of Drowning

A Summer of Drowning A terrifying and dream like new novel from one of our greatest contemporary writers At a critical point in her career painter Angelika Rossdal suddenly moves to Kvaloya a small island deep in the Ar

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  • Title: A Summer of Drowning
  • Author: John Burnside
  • ISBN: 9780224061780
  • Page: 386
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A terrifying and dream like new novel from one of our greatest contemporary writers At a critical point in her career, painter Angelika Rossdal suddenly moves to Kvaloya, a small island deep in the Arctic Circle, to dedicate herself to the solitary pursuit of her craft With her, she brings her young daughter, Liv, who grows up isolated and unable or unwilling to make friA terrifying and dream like new novel from one of our greatest contemporary writers At a critical point in her career, painter Angelika Rossdal suddenly moves to Kvaloya, a small island deep in the Arctic Circle, to dedicate herself to the solitary pursuit of her craft With her, she brings her young daughter, Liv, who grows up isolated and unable or unwilling to make friends her own age, spending much of her time alone, or with an elderly neighbour, Kyrre Jonsson, who beguiles her with old folk tales and stories about trolls, mermaids and crucially for the events that unfold in the summer of her eighteenth year about the huldra, a wild spirit who appears in the form of an irresistibly beautiful girl, to lure young men to their doom Now twenty eight, Liv looks back on her life and particularly to that summer when two boys drowned under mysterious circumstances in the still moonlit waters off the shores of Kvaloya Were the deaths accidental, or were the boys, as Kyrre believes, lured to their deaths by a malevolent spirit To begin with, Liv dismisses the old man s stories as fantasy, but as the summer continues and events take an even darker turn, she comes to believe that something supernatural is happening on the island But is it Or is Liv, a lonely girl who has spent her entire life in the shadow of her beautiful, gifted mother, slowly beginning to lose touch with reality Set in the white nights of an Arctic summer, the novel has the heightened, hallucinogenic atmosphere of a dream, but culminates in a moment of profound horror Intensely imagined and exquisitely written, A Summer of Drowning is a play of dark and light, of looking and seeing, that will hold and haunt every reader.

    One thought on “A Summer of Drowning”

    1. When asked to list the types of books I generally enjoy, a phrase I've often thrown into the list is 'books about solitary people'. In A Summer of Drowning, I have found perhaps the ultimate book about solitary people. Set on the remote Norwegian island of Kvaløya, it features a cast of characters almost universally defined by their independence and solitude. The story is narrated by Liv, a self-confessed loner with no boyfriend or friends - nor any desire for them; her closest relationship is [...]

    2. This is a book that I will be thinking about for a long time! I ended up having more questions upon finishing it than I did when I started it, but bloody hell, I loved it! If you enjoy ambiguous endings and unreliable narrators then you need to pick up John Burnside’s A Summer of Drowning.Set in the achingly beautiful and remote Kvaløya in the Arctic Circle, A Summer of Drowning sees Liv, now in her late twenties, attempt to piece together the mysterious events of her 18th summer on the islan [...]

    3. A Summer of Drowning is John Burnside’s eighth novel. Although it sounded interesting to me, I initially decided to skip it because the previous “Burnside novels” I’d read I was less than taken with. Then I read an article in which Burnside stated that he, himself, was less than thrilled with his own early novels and that he recognized their mistakes. Okay, I decided, maybe it was time I gave John Burnside another chance.A Summer of Drowning is set on the small Arctic island of Kvaløya, [...]

    4. I had high hopes for this novel, but was sorely disappointed. It is a suspense novel without any real suspense. It is a novel about myth without any magic. The narrator reveals her perceptions and then immediately gives away the flaws in her perceptions by not so much foreshadowing as forestorytelling, therefore undoing any tension in the narrative. There is a lot of unnecessary repetition, particularly regarding the "deep thoughts" (read "annoying rhetorical questions") of the teenage narrator. [...]

    5. A Summer of Drowning is one of those books with no real plots, but then it doesn't really matter since the plot is not the point. The artist,Angelika Rossdal and her daughter, Liv (the narrator) live solitary lives in Kvaløya, an isolated island in Norway. Liv, now 28 years old, recalls the summer she was 18 when there was a spate of four unexplained disappearances. Their only neighbour and Liv's only friend is a mysterious old man, Kyrre, who beguiles Liv with myths, particularly about the hul [...]

    6. The narrative voice of this novel is basically this:At the time this seemed impossible. But what it impossible? Looking back now, I know that it couldn't have happened. But it did happen. And after everything that happened after, I see now that it was possible. But how could that have been? I knew that it was impossible, yet it had happened. It seemed strange, then, and perhaps even stranger now, but so many strange things happened that summer, that a part of me will always be unsure if they rea [...]

    7. It is summer time on the island of Kvaloya, the time of the midnight sun. And Mats Sigfridsson has just drowned. Soon after his brother Harald also drowns. How could they both have drowned on such a calm, peaceful sea? And why had they both chosen to steal the same boat. Was it some sort of a suicide pact between the brothers? Liv Rossdal isn’t so sure. And after ten years thinking about the drownings she still isn’t sure.Liv was eighteen that summer. Finished school and trying to decide wha [...]

    8. An immediate personal favourite. More than a flicker of Machen, echoes of Salinger's CATCHER', though with a more precocious character, a possible homage to Tove Jansson, and much that reminded me of Joan Lindsay's PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK. I've not yet read a Burnside novel that didn't both spellbind and quietly horrify me. But this is my favourite of those I have read; I even prefer this to GLISTER, which is saying something. Be prepared for considered (and rewarding) insights into consciousness [...]

    9. I wish writers would get over trying to be elusive or allusive. So much of that mebbes-aye-mebbes-naw stuff is more irritating than clever. Pages of what I can only call faff. Maybe a short story that was strung out into a novel? I couldn't get a grip on this narrator. She floated about with no personality and no purpose, as if a list of unanswered questions adds up to a character. An interesting strand re her father ended up petering out to nothing at all. That said, there were some stunning de [...]

    10. wooow. Evo tog osjećaja - ovo je knjiga za mene, od A do Ž, to je to. Napokon sam došla do knjige s kojom se ne želim rastati, atmosferu koju ne želim pustiti, likove koje sam tek počela nazirati i šire slike koja mi se tek počela otvarati a već je gotovo. :( Misterij, psihološka drama i prstohvat sna. Za mene savršenstvo. Skandinavska divljina, kamenje, kraj svijeta, bijele noći, u kojima na rubu Arktika nema sna ni za domaće, a ni za strance koji dolaze odmoriti živce - no umjest [...]

    11. Apparently this is meant to be eerie but I found it full of waffle, from the unreliable narrator. This is the big question: if the narrator is weak, confused, losing it, addled by white nights, and not a writer, can the dull, repetitive, banal narration be excused? I don't think so. Here's an example:I wanted everything to stay the same. No letters, no journalists, no drowned boys, no future. No future, only the present and whatever past I chose to remember. Because remembering is a choice, if i [...]

    12. Well, this was one of the most boring books I ever read. I get that writing about solitary people can be interesting, but this book didn’t manage to amaze me. Let me give you a short summery of the story:(view spoiler)[- Liv and her mother live on a nearly deserted Island- nothing happens- Liv visits her only neighbour and nothing happens- a new person arrives on the island and nothing happens- one boy drowns mysteriously - nothing happens- another boy drowns mysteriously - Liv visits the stra [...]

    13. This was truly dreadful. The adage of good story telling is show not tell. This meandered from one over written scene to the next. There is so much padding if this book was a vase and thrown of the Empire State building it would bounce. 18 year-old Liv is the unreliable narrator of this tale which may or may not involve a Pserin like creature from Norwegian folklore, I really couldn’t tell what was happening and then for no purpose the story shot off at a tangent as Liv went to England to visi [...]

    14. A Summer of Drowning, by award-winning Scottish poet and novelist John Burnside, is about a young woman named Liv, who resides on a Norwegian island in the arctic circle with her mother, a beautiful, successful, but frustratingly distant artist. Liv occasionally hangs out with her only friend, an older man named Kyrre Opdahl, who enjoys and to some extent believes old fairy tales. During the arctic “white nights” of Liv’s 18th summer, a couple boys from the island drown under mysterious ci [...]

    15. Lets try a review this way:For those who dream of a dangerous, adventurous life, yet whom remain indoors deep within the dusty pages of inked characters on a crisp, white page;Three days ago, do you remember that hearing that pretty and prim group of poppy-seed posse calling you a recluse because you chose an evening of trolls and faery tales;A desolate Friday night entering the ancient myth of the huldra, lets call her Maia, who is somehow attached to the the drowning of two sibling boys? the i [...]

    16. Naw. It’s extremely rare that I abandon a book, but that’s what I’m doing here. The ingredients are good — vanishings, an Arctic Circle setting, a living myth in the form of the huldra — but A Summer Of Drowning is simply interminable. Almost literally every sentence uttered by teenage narrator Liv is instantly contradicted, disavowed or weakened, and she spends so long diluting her own experience of the events, that the events themselves become as thin as gauze. Now, maybe this is del [...]

    17. A Summer of Drowning is a beautiful man, in book form. The kind who sits in a corner of a room, sipping his fine wine, flipping through some old dog-eared children's book of tales while a party goes on around him. And then, finally, when you approach, manages to be both overblown and self-effacing, looping back on his favorite words, taking too long to say anything, and eventually being so unironic that you are sure that he is lying about something. While this is a book about a young woman in a [...]

    18. Wie in den beiden Romanen von BurnsideDie Spur des Teufels: Roman, Haus der Stummen, die ich bereits gelesen habe, steht im Zentrum ein absoluter Einzelgänger, der – in diesem Fall die – ihr gesamtes Leben im Haus der Eltern verbringt. Die 18-jährige Liv beschreibt ihr Leben im nördlichen Norwegen, in einem abgelegenen Haus, wo sie mit ihrer Mutter lebt, die sich ganz ihrer Malerei widmet. Als zwei Jungen ertrinken, scheint sich dies nicht nur mit der ganz eigenen Stimmung der langen Somm [...]

    19. It's quite possible that the main character in this novel is the white twilight of the arctic summer, which Burnside describes with poetic resonance. This all-pervading glow distorts the reality of the landscape and the lives of those living in a quiet community, casting a baleful influence; making a malevolent spirit world a plausibility.This spirit world may or may not explain strange events on the island. Do not expect the mystery to be explained, for here is an unreliable narrator: a young g [...]

    20. Ilus oli kõik täpselt niikaua, kuni jõudis kätte aeg süüvida peategelaste hingeellu. Üksikema kolib Põhja-Norra pea inimtühjale saarele koos oma samasuguse üksiklasest tütrega, kelle silmade läbi lugu siis ka jutustatakse. Või no, mis jutustatakse, püütakse jutustada, kogu aeg on teemaks see, kuidas "tahtsin küll midagi öelda, aga ei leidnud sobivat hetke", "tundsin, et ta tahab midagi öelda, aga ei küsinud, mis see oli, muidu oleks lummuse lõhkunud" jne. Oi, ma vihastasin se [...]

    21. This puzzling, poetic, even mythic, novel does not easily give up its secrets to the reader, even with determined repeated readings of key passages. A young girl, Liv, who has just finished high school, lives on a remote Norwegian island with her famously reclusive artist mother. Angelika, who once painted portraits, has, for the past several years, surrendered to the deep solitude of the place and is mostly lost in the work of painting landscapes. She is a beautiful, remote, and unavailable wom [...]

    22. At a critical point in her career, painter Angelika Rossdal suddenly moves to Kvaloya, a small island deep in the Arctic Circle, to dedicate herself to the solitary pursuit of her craft. With her, she brings her young daughter, Liv, who grows up isolated and unable or unwilling to make friends her own age, spending much of her time alone, or with an elderly neighbour, Kyrre Jonsson, who beguiles her with old folk tales and stories about trolls, mermaids and – crucially for the events that unfo [...]

    23. A slow and mysterious book that creeps into your psyche. A flat featureless northern landscape that becomes a source of still richness. The main character, Liv, tries to fit her life together after a long and magical childhood, full of silence and the spirits of the north. The remoteness of the land and its cruel seasons are reflected in characters with wide spaces and silences and misunderstandings between, events of slow and wrenching violence - drownings, obsessions, closed doors and remote h [...]

    24. Ce roman me laisse perplexe. Tout y était pour me plaire; des personnages aux motivations ambigues, une atmosphère étrange, un folklore local hyper angoissant et le sentiment tout au long du récit que quelque chose de grave s'apprête à arriver, un peu à la Twin Peaks. Malheureusement, il n'y a jamais vraiment eu de moments forts, même à la toute fin, et l'intrigue demeure irrésolue. J'ai quand même eu du plaisir à la lecture, mais je n'arrive pas à me débarrasser du sentiment que [...]

    25. I loved this, it felt very atmospheric, and became very subtly creepy at times.you didn't realize you were being scared.until you were jumping at every little noise around you! Fav quote: " I read old myths and legends, fairy stories and cautionary tales, to keep the ghosts at bay. They need somewhere to be, though, and if you don't find a home for them out in the wind somewhere, if you don't bed them down safely at the edge of the sea or the once upon a time, they spill back into this world and [...]

    26. This is the second time I approached this book. The first time I decided not to read it after all, and I should have left it there. This is not for me. I’m heavily into soul searching, but only this in a novel makes it a long journey. Both the setting and the language are beautiful, especially the descriptions of the long white summer days, but there is far too much surmising and not enough actually happening.

    27. Finished reading it a few weeks ago. Every time I think of it I seem to like it more. And in reading it I discovered the painter Harald Sohlberg - that alone made it worth reading.

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