Review: ‘And The Swans Began To Sing’, by Thora Karitas Arnadottir

and-the-swans-began-to-sing-cover-paperback-front-cover_1Published by: Wild Pressed Books

Publication Date: 10th January 2019

IS.B.N.: 9781916489608

Format: Paperback

Price: £7.99


The swans on the pond, quite abruptly began to sing. It was a singing so loud they were almost screaming. The swans were screaming, screaming as if they saw the horror of the world.

Gudbjorg Thorisdottir has been hiding from the ghost of an ugly secret for most of her life. When she finally faces the truth of what happened throughout her childhood, the ghost floats away. Painting an evocative picture of her life in Iceland, this is the story of a little girl who didn’t know how unnatural it was to experience both heaven and hell in the same house.

Thora Karitas Arnadottir (b. 1979) studied drama in the UK, and is a producer as well as appearing on stage and television. And the Swans Began to Sing is her first published book; her mother’s story, and formed the final dissertation for her MA in Creative Writing. The book was nominated for the Icelandic Women’s Literary prize Fjoruverdlaunin in 2016.

 Website: Wild Pressed Books

My Review

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book, Anne Cater of Random Things blog tours for organising the tour, and the author for writing this short biography of her mother.

I found the narrative painful and inspiring, and the use of first person, of Gudbjorg’s telling of this story herself, very effective and affecting. At times child-like in description and at others the sophisticated school Principal, the narrative takes us from life on 1950s Reykjavik for a small girl in an overcrowded old house to the late 1990s, when, as a senior Principal in Reykjavik, Gudbjorg seeks help for the first time. The narrative ops about in time but always comes back to the main path, while covering the abuse she survived as a child and Gudbjorg’s path to healing.

The first mention of abuse is a shock, almost out of the blue, after which the author returns to the subject at intervals, as though the narrator is afraid to look to closely at the memories, ripping the plaster off slowly, until all at once it is uncovered, and she is able to discuss it, social attitudes towards child abuse, and the common experiences of abuse survivors.

The translation is smooth and reads very well.

I fully recommend this work.

About The Author

thora-headshot2016_1And The Swans Begin to Sing by Thora Karitas is published by Wild Pressed Books on 10th January 2019.

 Thora Karitas is an Icelandic actress and author and this is the English translation of her Icelandic debut.
It’s a narrative non-fiction about her mother’s life in Iceland.

Throughout her childhood Thora’s mother, Gudjborg was raped on a regular basis by her grandmother.

THORA KARITAS ARNADOTTIR studied drama in Britain and is best known for the award winning TV series, Astridur, in her home country and for hosting Unique Iceland, a highly popular travel magazine show about Iceland.

Thora is currently working on her first novel, which will be released in Iceland in 2019.

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