The Lily of the Valley Girl
Merete appears to have found herself a new life. She is recently divorced and middle aged, with an average appearance and a job as public defender. She no longer meets any of her old friends; she does not even spend more time than is absolutely necessary with her two adult children. Instead she spends her free time with…
Merete appears to have found herself a new life. She is recently divorced and middle aged, with an average appearance and a job as public defender. She no longer meets any of her old friends; she does not even spend more time than is absolutely necessary with her two adult children. Instead she spends her free time with the mismatched couple living in the flat below her own, Karianne and Mikke. Karianne is an exceptionally beautiful 30-year old magazine journalist, while Mikke is in his early 20s, unemployed and has a body fixation. Soon Mikke’s older brother Sigurd comes to visit from London, and he too occupies an immediate place in Merete’s life.
Jonas is one of the people Merete has stopped seeing. But he sees her, as if through a one-way mirror. For 15 years he has been her friend and now he observes Merete’s fumbling, clumsy attempts to form new relationships, her rampant insecurity and what in his eyes is an unfounded and unrealistic desire to start over.
The Lily of the Valley Girl is a strange and disturbing novel written by an author with a sharp eye for the existential and fundamental things to be found in the wholly ordinary.
Praise for The Lily of the Valley Girl:
“an original and elegant narrative technique, perhaps even more distinguished than in her previous novels … a book so richly complex and cleverly crafted, it is a joy to read … a novel about story-telling, and about how the story creates delight and longing, how it contains the possibility of both dream and desire … definitely the funniest novel Oterholm has written … a lively and pleasurable experience”
“it is this eye, the perspective or voice, that constitutes the before-mentioned discomfort in Oterholm’s new novel. The eye at times makes the text vibrate from fascination and disdain at the same time … an author who has a sharp eye for the complexity of generalities and mediocrity”
“[The novel] has a drive and a discomfort about it that is dissimilar to anything else”
“the quality is just in the fact that she forces the reader into deep intellectual waters. So never mind that it is mostly painful to think, as the philosopher Arne Næss has put it.”
Dag og Tid
“With this novel, Oterholm shows that she is in a class of her own. She does not pander to her readers, she does not rub them the right way, but serves up stories of great originality and quality”
“Gut-wrenchingly well-written … The fact that the reader cannot trust the narrator, creates a rare intensity … one of the most compelling and uncomfortable reads in ages”
6/ 6 stars, Stavanger Aftenblad
“Well-written, an easy read and highly experimental … There are no bad sentences. The dialogues reveal, in a subtle manner, the underlying, silent communication between the characters … The narrative pull and discomfort is not just caused by the eye, but also the object. Oterholm depicts people in the twilight of the common, normal and predictable. People that overstep and interfere with (each)other’s intimate spheres. This makes The Lily of the Valley Girl a disturbing, yet good and intense read”
5/6 stars, Dagbladet