The text shines as an honest reckoning with the death of a spouse—but one in a deeply companionless marriage—and the life of two people who shared little but space ... Jessen is a tremendously gifted writer, and as the book progresses—with our narrator gaining more distance from the death of her husband—we glimpse what our narrator’s life becomes, and the writing really shines. Jessen, the Danish translator of Marilynne Robinson, among others, proves to have a keen Robinsonian streak of her own. She writes with the same narrative generosity, the same belief in the dignity and voice of characters that might usually be dismissed ... This work is firmly grounded, quite literally. The landscape, the heath surrounding Thryegod, the rural town in Western Denmark where our narrator resides, is a character in and of itself. The natural world is not neutral, simply a landscape about which our narrator feels comfortable waxing poetically. Rather, it acts on our narrator ... Furthermore, Jessen remains measured in her descriptions, often opting for the plainer turn of phrase ... Jessen can be lyrical when she likes, but perhaps more impressive is her restraint when it’s exactly what’s called for.
A stirring reflection on death and mourning, loneliness, and female identity in a changing 20th century Denmark ... It is through this rediscovery of people and places from her past that [Jessen] begins to rebuild her life in the present ... through Jessen’s eloquently translated prose, we are reminded of 'the deathly circumstance of our human life'.
... spare, yet beautiful, prose superbly translated ... satisfies on many levels — prose, inner dialogue, the depiction of time and place, Fru Bagge’s growing self-discovery ... a quiet novel that prompts contemplation on the part of the reader. It’s not a book to read quickly or to skim, because to do so would mean missing the essence of L. Hoy Schoolteacher.
A powerful and intimate portrait ... Jessen is a talented and empathetic writer (and kudos must be given to translator Aitken, whose translation is supple and luminous), and has imbued a quiet story about a woman finding herself after her husband’s death with poignancy and stunning humanity.
We get to experience the voyeuristic pleasure of becoming immersed in someone else's grief, self-discovery, and eventual reinvention ... Wit and vivid descriptions are presented in equal measure, as issues of sexual desire and the need for both solitude and companionship come to the fore ... An engaging, honest, and beautifully written look at love, loss, and self-realization.