Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Butterflies in November by Audur Ava Olafdottir

Butterflies in November by Audur Ava Olafdottir

Our main character is having an interesting time of it.  She is dumped by her lover and her husband in the same day.  She also wins two lotteries: a portable summer cabin to be placed anywhere in the country, and millions of Icelandic kronor.  And her best friend is laid up in hospital, on mandatory bed rest for the health of her unborn twins, so her deaf-mute four year old son Tumi is left with nowhere to go.  Our main character takes all these circumstances and shoves them together.  She is now Tumi’s guardian and he is comfortably seat-belted in the back of her car, the glove compartment is filled with money and the cabin is transported to the east of the island.  Road trip!

This book has been described by some reviewers as humorous.  I didn’t see it.  I guess the parts that others would find funny I just saw as being Icelandic.  I have spent less than three weeks in Iceland but that is long enough to know that its uniqueness is its charm.  If you want to know more about how Icelanders see the world (and what to do if you accidently run over a sheep on the Ring Road) this would be a good book to pick up. 

Know that there are recipes at the back of the book of the foods the characters experience.  Some of it is good, some is definitely Icelandic.  And no, that isn’t exactly a compliment. 

Also, like much Nordic literature, it starts out rather slow before it gets going.  The road trip doesn’t start until about halfway through the book.  Again, I love Iceland, so I enjoyed the book but I can’t see every reader sticking with it to take a ride with these quirky characters.