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  1. Larissa Larissa says:

    I came to Dea Trier M rch s Evening Star with absolutely no background information or preconceptions I found it in a university library so no back cover description , and picked it up solely because it was in the Danish section and is illustrated throughout with the author s lovely woodcuts The story is centered around Nils Peter, a divorced translator living in Copenhagen with his two sons and, frequently, his mother the well meaning, but overbearing Bette They have a somewhat unconventi I came to Dea Trier M rch s Evening Star with absolutely no background information or preconceptions I found it in a university library so no back cover description , and picked it up solely because it was in the Danish section and is illustrated throughout with the author s lovely woodcuts The story is centered around Nils Peter, a divorced translator living in Copenhagen with his two sons and, frequently, his mother the well meaning, but overbearing Bette They have a somewhat unconventional relationship of mutual dependence, which is upset when they discover that Bette is seriously ill She refuses to have a preventative operation or be treated at a large specialty hospital until it is too late, and her manageable illness develops into terminal liver cancer Her children primarily Nils Peter then spend the summer nursing her through the last phases of her illness The novel s narration is one of theinteresting aspects of Evening Star Subdivided first by dates October 17 26, 1980 , the story is further dissected into small paragraphs and sub sections, giving an episodic, almost pulsing rhythm to the narrative as it floats through memories of the events surrounding Bette s death Plot heavy scenes are punctuated with naturalistic observations such as meaningless conversations between children or simply impressionistic descriptions of a moment the fields in the filtered October light, blue hills merging one behind the other as in a painting by Brueghel The narrative is gently quilted together, a cobbling of memories and impressions that somehow encompass an experience as opaque and blindly traumatic as the loss of a parent The story is then in many ways a sensual experience, rather than a psychological one Characterizations remain rather thin and static We know much about Bette s eccentric brood a family with occasional albeit faint echoes of the Glass clan , but their reactions to their mother s impending death never feel fully realized or invested I am still not sure if there s a cultural gap here that I m missing, but suffice to say that from my perspective, everyone in this novel is amazingly cold or at the very least, extremely reserved about Bette s illness Almost everyone believes that Nils Peter is being excessive, and perhaps a bit childish, by insisting that his mother live with him instead of being checked into a hospital for the duration of her illness Emotions between the mother and son rise and fall almost inexplicably Betta decides that Nils Peter s girlfriend should no longer be allowed to come over to his house while Bette is awake Nils Peter rages over his mother s selfishness at wanting a birthday party and a funeral And underlying everything is a sense of frustration that Bette holds on to her life as long as she does As if life could go back to normal if only she would hurry up and die Now, admittedly, a prolonged terminal illness is a stressful and painful thing for any family member to bear and anger, even undeserved anger towards the invalid is a real, and very natural part of the process In this way, Evening Star s portrayal of the grieving process is acute and honest All the same, I found this undercurrent of antagonism quite distancing and unrelatable I could only keep thinking about how I might react, if it were my own mother And it looked nothing like this After Niels Peter jubilantly sees his mother finally die It worked Oh, God That s it It s over It couldn t have been better , the novel seems to make up for some of its coldness As Nils Peter comes to realize, he will once again find the love that he once felt for her, the love he felt all his life but which seems to have left him during these nine months Step by step he will learn to regain her


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