... a brilliant study of the mundane, full of unexpected detours and driving prose. It is also the best post office novel ever written ... Hjorth’s novel, lucidly translated by Charlotte Barslund, ingeniously orbits the intimate stories that are possible only when a character has put words on paper and sent them through the post.
Although the writing style—long sentences filled with Ellinor’s innermost musings—never changes, its implications shift with Ellinor’s moods. In the beginning, it has a moody, dissociative quality. Her depression is palpable, even infectious. But as she emerges from her ennui, her rambling sentences become excited and eager, sharing her newfound engagement with the world. She takes pleasure in ordinary things that she once dismissed as worthless and trite ... Ellinor discovers the value of her own—and other people’s—existence not through grand adventures or a single epiphany, but through a hard-won change in perspective. She and her journey are all the more relatable for it ... Watching Ellinor’s numbness melt away, leaving her a better, more whole person, is a joyous and unforgettable experience ... The ordinary becomes vibrant and life affirming in Long Live the Post Horn!, an engrossing novel about how even hopeless battles are worth fighting.
Hjorth's novel, admirably translated by Charlotte Barslund so as to maintain the novel's Norwegian grounding, is a study in existential torpor that, happily, does not induce the same condition in the reader ... This is an engaging, well-honed novel although some of the stories-within-stories might better have been shortened and some of Ellinor's internal dialogue can feel somewhat, well, repetitive. Still, she provides a focal point for first-person ruminations about one's place in the world and how difficult it can be to engage fully with the people and tasks and decisions that impinge on us while we are here ... Hjorth even succeeds in making Ellinor's travails toward the culminating up-or-down vote on a Norwegian government directive engaging reading ... Hjorth's writing is both spare and, in an understated way, humorous, as Ellinor, an intensely self-reflective but oddly empty vessel, finds herself and loses herself – repeatedly -- as life unfolds amidst colleagues and friends and lovers, their families and their demands.
... in Vigdis Hjorth’s newly translated 2012 novel, Long Live the Post Horn!, the saga of the EU postal directive is an inspired context for a story about personal despair and political awakening ... Ellinor is an engaging and funny narrator, ingrained despair the motor of her mordant humor, or at least sarcasm ... Long Live the Post Horn! becomes explicitly a novel about writing, its merits and its perils ... [Hjorth's] novel, despite Ellinor’s tone of sardonic disengagement, is also a treatise, in its way, on the nature of literature and commitment.
... expertly translated into idiomatic British English by Charlotte Barslund, who perfectly captures Hjorth’s shifting subtleties of tone, an essential aspect of novels that have been crafted with the same painstaking care as an embroidery. And as with embroidery, every thread of Ellinor’s tale loops its patterned way through the fabric of the story before its loose end is neatly, unobtrusively tucked away ... The contrast between simplicity and sophistication becomes a recurrent theme in Long Live the Post Horn! ... In this constant measuring of one person against another, the mail service emerges as one of the most powerful bonds connecting Norwegian to Norwegian, no matter how harshly changing times, changing politics, and changing technology conspire to divide them from one another.
... bleak and wry ... Ellinor’s ennui is enlivened, in Barslund’s sharp translation, by Hjorth’s candid prose and concise paragraphs, a style that allows Ellinor to pivot between dry musings and sardonic narration. The effect is entertaining in small doses but tends to drag in the long term. Still, Hjorth’s substantive and witty novel of personal growth delivers on multiple levels.
... quirky, unsettling ... Unfortunately for the reader, unhinged Ellinor is far more fascinating than the Ellinor who exults in the intricacies of letter delivery and the details of converting people to the union cause. Just when it seems that Ellinor may be able to lift herself out of the depths of trying to make sense of her old diaries and focus on the people around her, including a newly pregnant sister and a newish boyfriend with a son from an earlier relationship, she becomes obsessed with the postal union. Her friends and family, insufficiently developed as characters, fall to the narrative wayside, and the reader is left trying to work up some interest in arcane matters. Though it's tempting to suspect that Hjorth is taking a nuanced view of Ellinor's obsession, ultimately it seems that we're supposed to conclude that it's straightforwardly noble, and it grows increasingly hard to care about either Ellinor or her redemption ... An unconvincing account of willed self-transformation.