In the days leading up to Christmas, Dómhildur delivers her 1,922nd baby. Beginnings and endings are her family trade; she comes from a long line of midwives on her mother’s side and a long line of undertakers on her father’s. She even lives in the apartment that she inherited from her grandaunt, a midwife with a unique reputation for her unconventional methods. As a terrible storm races towards Reykjavik, Dómhildur discovers decades worth of letters and manuscripts hidden amongst her grandaunt’s clutter. Fielding calls from her anxious meteorologist sister and visits from her curious new neighbour, Dómhildur escapes into her grandaunt’s archive and discovers strange and beautiful reflections on birth, death and human nature.
A gorgeous, spiraling slow burn of a book ... Contrasting threads of birth and death, dark and light, clutter and space, weave a tapestry of sentences reminiscent of the grand-aunt’s elaborate embroideries ... To read this book is to immerse oneself in the natural world of Iceland. Vivid descriptions of weather and landscape, animals and plants, star-filled night skies and slivers of sunrises fill the pages and are never boring ... Daily moments of beauty and meaning enable Dómhildur and her grand-aunt to face the precariousness and harshness of life on our planet without much flinching, and remind us we can do the same – a necessary book for our time.
A probing, discursive meditation on the implications of a midwife as 'mother of light' ... FitzGibbon seamlessly handles many such lexical allusions and double meanings, and deserves special mention for the straightforward beauty of Fífa's writings and the novel's final poetic page ... Dýja's character arc is largely psychological, processing and letting go, as a historic storm approaches Iceland. Her progress is halting, but fitting for a novel that emphasizes the difficulty of navigating a world full of some people who 'bring light with them,' and others who 'try to drag you into their darkness.'
Every novel by Audur Ava Olafsdottir is a multifaceted gem, with a sparkle concealing dark hues and sharp edges ... Deftly translated ... A tranquil yet compelling meditation on life and death, darkness and light, from a reliably thought-provoking novelist.