cover image Will and Testament

Will and Testament

Vigdis Hjorth, trans. from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund. Verso, $19.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-78873-310-6

A long-suppressed family secret comes to light in Hjorth’s captivating, psychologically intense novel, a bestseller in her native Norway. Bergljot, a magazine editor living in Lier, Norway, is a mother to three adult children and no longer speaks to her own parents and younger siblings. But Bergljot and her brother Bård get back in touch after a conflict erupts over cabins their parents have willed only to their other children, Astrid and Åsa. Bård is seeking support from Bergljot, enraged by what he sees as an unfair division of inheritance. But Bergljot is less concerned with the cabins than with her family’s history of denial. When, 23 years earlier, she tried to tell her family about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, her mother “refused to believe,” and Bergljot became “an outcast who threatened the family honour.” Now, for the sake of justice and her own sanity, Bergljot decides she must try again to make her family acknowledge what happened. Bergljot emerges as a damaged but heroic figure; she drinks too much and is constantly on the phone with her children and her friend Klara, yet she is determined to forgive and to live a full life; “to be fundamentally unhappy, shaken and rattled to your core, and yet still experience moments of happiness.” Hjorth’s thoughtful, drily funny, and often devastating novel will leave a deep and lasting impression on readers.[em] (Sept.) [/em]