Woman at 1,000 Degrees: A Novel

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Herra Bjӧrnsson sometimes feels as though she’s lived enough lifetimes for three people. From Iceland to Nazi-occupied Germany during WWII to both North and South Americas and finally back home, her life has been anything but a straight and easy path. Looking back on her strange journey and reminiscing about the assorted husbands, lovers, and children she’s amassed and then discarded, she has few regrets, even though her final days are spent with mostly her computer and a hand grenade. As death draws near, Herra follows her heart one last time and sets the date of her own cremation, writing the end of her own story, even as she narrates it.

Helgason’s novel is superbly written, with characters and events that grab your attention and make it hard to put down. Sadly, while the author transcends expectations with his prose, he falls back to earth hard when it comes to the post-rape treatment he gives his female protagonist. (No mental or emotional scarring! Recovers immediately! Engages in sex afterward with no problem!) This unintentional patriarchally-flavored trope is disappointing, even though Helgason’s heroine is not. She may not be generous, loving, or good-natured, but Herra is always interesting and leaves you wanting more.


Reviewed By:

Author Hallgrímur Helgason • Brian FitzGibbon, Translator
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 368 pages
Publisher Algonquin Books
Publish Date 2018-Jan-09
ISBN 9781616206239
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2018
Category Modern Literature
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