The Bear Woman

Karolina Ramqvist, trans. from the Swedish by Saskia Vogel. Coach House, $17.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-55245-431-2
Ramqvist (The White City) skillfully blends a story of survival with an autofictional meditation on womanhood. It begins with an obsession. In 1541, Marguerite de La Roque accompanies her male guardian, a man of connections, on an expedition to the New World. En route, though, Marguerite is abandoned on an island in the North Atlantic as punishment for supposedly sleeping with a crew member. In the present day, Karolina Ramqvist, a writer and mother of three, hears the legend of the Bear Woman, about how Marguerite survived the wild animals and the wilderness on the island. As Ramqvist begins looking through historical archives, a winding research and writing process ensues, nonlinear in its progression and punctuated by the fear and self-doubt plaguing Karolina in her mission to unearth the truth of what happened to Marguerite. Insightful in her observations and sharp with her prose, the author explores parallels between Marguerite’s experiences and Karolina’s, as the protagonist contends with the demands of motherhood. It adds up to a careful study of a woman’s writing life. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 12/01/2021
Release date: 02/01/2022
Genre: Fiction
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