Jens Christian Grondahl is one of the most celebrated and widely read writers in Europe. Born in Denmark in 1959, his literary work includes thirteen novels, essays and several plays. Three of his novels, Lucca, Silence in October and Virginia, were published by Canongate to outstanding acclaim. His fiction has been translated into sixteen languages, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Booksellers' Golden Laurels for Lucca.
As melancholy, autumnal and finely calibrated as a Bergman film, this second novel by Grondahl (Silence in October) meticulously chronicles the separate past loves of a doctor and his patient, and their shared present detachment. Lucca Montale, an actress with a young son and a string of unhappy affairs behind her, rushes out of her house in the Danish countryside and drives head-on into a truck after her playwright husband, Andreas, tells her that he wants a divorce. At the hospital, she is eventually informed that she may never see again. Attempting to adjust to her new reality, Lucca becomes attached to Robert, her doctor, a divorced father living in a state of denial and resignation. The two manage to overcome not only the abysmal reality of Lucca's injury, but also their own bitter past experiences. Robert invites Lucca to stay with him while she recovers, and their chaste intimacy bears quiet fruit. Through a slow, deliberate accumulation of emotional, psychological and physical detail, Grondahl paints an achingly luminous and nuanced portrait of two characters alienated from those around them and from their own pasts. Lucca's experiences-glamorous trysts with a famous director, an actor and all sorts of men around Europe-are very different from Robert's lonely domesticity and long hours spent listening to classical music, but their stories are treated with equally sensuous attention, the more poignant because it is filtered through an awareness that "life lasted longer than your dreams." Beautifully translated by Born, this is a lovely minor-key effort. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
When 32-year-old Lucca Montale is brought into a Copenhagen hospital after driving headlong into a truck, her surgeon Robert saves her life but not her sight. Drawn to his patient, whose beauty has mesmerized European audiences for years, Robert begins a daily bedside vigil after his own shift ends. He has the time-he's post-divorce, and his only joy is his daughter, Lea, whose gentle tugging on parental reins signals her inevitable immersion into adolescence. As Lucca heals, she and Robert slowly reveal their respective troubled romantic histories. Lucca's is far more cluttered with old lovers than Robert's, but they share the numbing residue of having been betrayed. For Lucca, the relief of being done with a traitorous marriage and the weight of celebrity blends beautifully with her new, trusting friendship with Robert. For his part, his supporting role in helping this independent woman find her way recharges his flatline existence and frees him from his own demons. Grmndahl, whose Silence in October was an LJ Best Book, once again proves himself to be master of the poetry of small moments that can lead to shattering discoveries. Recommended.-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
* Grondahl's prose is electrically charged... A winner all the way The Times * an extraordinarily well-written and well-observed novel; a piece of fiction both profound and haunting. -- Scarlett Thomas Scotland On Sunday * His propensity for philosophical turns of phrase, which in the hands of a lesser writer might seem forced, here seems entirely appropriate to the novel's reflective mood. Lucca is already a bestseller in the author's native Denmark' in Anne Born's luminous translation, it deserves to be one here. -- Christina Koning The Guardian * Very occasionally one comes across a writer who has the power irrevocably to alter one's perspective. Jens Christian Grondahl is one such... It is a testament to the imaginative power of a novelist who leads his readers with masterly assurance through the impenetrable mazes of the heart. -- Jamie Jauncey The Scotsman