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The journey home
Olafur Johann Olafsson
Adult Fiction OLAFUR

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The cool undercurrents of history shiver the surface of this serene fiction set in England and Iceland after WWII. Twenty years after the war, Icelandic migr Adisa ("Disa") Jonsdottir is a successful, Elizabeth Davidesque restaurateur, manager of Ditton Hall, an English stately home transformed into a hotel. She lives with Anthony, the local squire, in a common-law arrangement and has assembled a staff suited to her perfectionist, willful character. Into her impeccably choreographed life comes the sudden news that she is terminally ill; knowing she may have less than a year left to live, she sets out to visit Iceland one last time. On her travels, a series of flashbacks bring memories of her childhood in Iceland and her early culinary training in prewar London. Buried deepest in her heart is the fate of her Jewish lover, Jakob, who returns to Germany from London in 1938 to try to rescue his parents. Alone, Disa goes home to Iceland and its quasi-racist politics, where she signs on as a cook for the well-to-do Haraldssons, whose troubled adult son has recently returned from Germany under a cloud. Olafsson (Absolution) writes in a spare but moving English, though sometimes Disa describes her recipes with more richness than the characters in her lives. Perhaps too reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro's butler in Remains of the Day, Disa weaves her own spell in Olafsson's accomplished novel, saving the tale from melodrama with her calm self-possession. Agent, Gloria Loomis. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In this well-crafted novel, Disa leads a serene life in England as the co-owner of a small hotel, where she shares a passion for cooking and nature with her partner, Anthony. When Disa is diagnosed with a fatal illness, she travels back to Iceland, revealing an unsettled past. The daughter of a doctor, she left her small village to be educated in Reykjavik. Disa soon alienated her mother by choosing a career as a chef and falling in love with Jacob, a German Jew. Disa and Jacob share a passionate, bohemian life in the English countryside until he returns to Germany to help his parents escape the Holocaust. Waiting for Jacob, Disa works in the house of an influential family and is swept into painful and startling events. Olafsson, a gifted writer (Absolution, o.p.), smoothly moves the story between past and present. Disa is not always likable but is always believable, and though the novel starts simply, it unfolds as an intricate tale of a strong and complex woman. Highly recommended.DCathleen A. Towey, Port Washington P.L., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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