Was it just another affair by a married artist? Or was it a betrayal ruining a little girl’s life? Who speaks the truth?
Elsa is dying. Her husband Martti and daughter Eleonoora are trying to get used to the idea of losing her, although they’re crushed with sorrow. As her mother’s existence becomes more fragile, the anchors of Eleonoora’s childhood memories are slipping away. Eleonoora’s daughter Anna easily loses herself in pondering the fates of passers-by. For her the world is full of stories. She learns by chance the story of Eeva, her mother’s nanny, of which the grandparents have been silent about for years. Eeva’s forgotten story opens layer by layer. The young woman’s voice carries us back to the 1960s, a time when the pill had been invented but the pick-up line hadn’t. A tale of a mother and daughter unfolds, a story of how memory can deceive us, because it is the most merciful thing to do.
“November brings snow, December, candles in the windows. I have evenings when I don’t think about the man once, perhaps only once about the little girl. I still carry them with me everywhere, hauling them around like a moving van looking for a home.”
Riikka Pulkkinen depicts this story of three generations with skill and exceptional maturity.
Gives fresh life to the familiar story of a family forced to face the truth about itself. Melancholic but beautifully written, I predict it will appeal to readers who enjoyed Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved.
This much is true: Riikka Pulkkinen’s novel is some of the finest literature I have read in a long time.
Pulkkinen spins variations of [the] theme of transformative identity, having characters periodically relate to one another as if they were improv. artists.
Certain scenes, certain pages border on perfection.
Secrets, long hidden, are revealed through alternating voices from her family’s present and past in this poignant work of fiction.
A beautiful, sensuous novel.
True is a story of family, secrets, lies and love that is both tender and memorable without ever becoming saccharine or sentimental. Pulkkinen’s prose is spare and efficient, but never detached, cold or clinical.
How much can one love a child that is not one’s own, and how deep can the sorrow be when this child is lost? Riikka Pulkkinen writes about family secrets with an eye for the nuances.
The more I read, the more I realise how rare those books are that remind you why you turned to literature once upon a time. But if only one in every hundred books you read are like True, that’s good enough.
It is a pleasure to read about such nuanced characters and about a difficult subject handled with great skill.
True is a wise and beautiful book about love, sadness, and death.