Peter Owen Publishers | Paperback | 240 pages
Date Published: 01 June 2003
Originally published in 1926
Book one in a trilogy of coming-of-age novels.
This is the story of Alberta Selmer, a young woman from a provincial town in the far north of Norway. Here the warm summers thaw the town’s social life. Families parade the boulevards and picnic on the hillsides, watching boats of tourists enter the harbour. Young men and women who have moved south return as different people, cultured, emancipated. Then, at the arrival of winter they depart once more, snow and rime settle over the town, and Alberta is left alone to her thoughts, her dim prospects and her family. There is her mother whom she is routinely disappointing. Her father whose ambition has waned and set, and her brother, Jacob, whose recklessness is a constant source of worry. Timid and seemingly without promise, Alberta’s destiny is all but written in the long lines on her mother’s face. That is, unless she can summon the courage to leave home.
Translated from the Norwegian by Elizabeth Rokkan
‘She has a place to herself among the finest contemporary writing.’ –Guardian
‘A masterpiece . . . it reads magnificently well . . . Above all, the whole book has an old-fashioned solidity, a quality of standing up and ringing true which sorts out good novels from bad quicker than anything else.’ – Observer
CORA SANDEL was born Sara Fabricius in Oslo in 1880. After a difficult childhood in the northern Norwegian town of Tromsø, she wrote the semi-autobiographical Alberta trilogy (of which Alberta and Jacob is the first part). These novels earned her an immediate place in the Scandinavian canon, but it was not until the 1960s that Sandel, now living as a recluse in Sweden, was discovered by the English-speaking world. Her books were acclaimed in the mainstream press, and feminist critics reinvented her as a champion of women’s emancipation. She wrote many other novels and short stories and was awarded a State Pension for artists by Norway. She died in 1974.