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Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors. Book Review

May 28, 2017

Mirror shoulder signal

Sonja is currently engaged in translating a popular, but very gritty Swedish crime author. She is over forty, unmarried and realising she’s fallen into the type of complacency that’s really leading her nowhere. So Sonja’s started driving lessons and is attempting to engage with meditation. But getting to grips with moving out of her comfort zone is a little more demanding than she had anticipated. The driving lessons are stressful at the best of times and the meditation group highlights just how much Sonja is out of touch with her people skills.

Can she succeed in getting her life out of its rut and escape the confines of Copenhagen for the expanses of her childhood landscape far out in the country?

On the surface the minutiae of this insignificant woman does not seem to have a great deal to offer the reader. But right from the start there is a bitter-sweet flavor to the stories as Sonja’s anxieties are layered in along with humour (her foul-mouthed driving instructor Jytte is a hoot, but at the same time would make the most competent driver nervous).

Dorthe Nors has a tremendous grasp of the many difficult social situations we have to weave our way through as a result of living cheek-to-jowl with other people. She brilliantly captures the sense of someone who is a highly-skilled and very private woman trying to feel her way out of the rut she has slid into. There is no doubt Sonja is excellent at her job, but this genteel woman has to deal with the horrific descriptions and concepts of a crime writer’s imagination, as she has to get intimately involved in the words of the translation on a daily basis. The outside world is equally as relentless.

The reader is very much ‘the fly on the wall’ as Sonja’s life is minutely detailed and proves to be every bit page-turning as the crime novels she translates.

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal was courtesy of Pushkin Press via NetGalley

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From → Book Review, Literary

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