April Witch: A Novel

Axelsson, Majgull

Published by Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2003
ISBN 10: 0812966880 / ISBN 13: 9780812966886
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Synopsis: Desirée lies in a hospital bed thinking, dreaming. Born severely disabled, she cannot walk or talk, but she has other capabilities. Desirée is an April witch, clairvoyant and omniscient, traveling through time and space into the world denied her.

The woman who gave Desirée up at birth subsequently took in three foster daughters, who know nothing of the existence of their fourth “sister.” Sensing that her own time is short, Desirée has decided that one of the others has lived the life she herself deserved. One day, each of the three women receives a mysterious letter that forces her to examine her past and her present—setting in motion a complex fugue of memory, regret, and confrontation that builds to a shattering climax.

April Witch created a furor upon its original publication in Sweden. Addressing themes of mother-daughter relationships, competition between women, and the failures of Sweden’s postwar welfare state, it is foremost a thrillingly written and fascinating story.

Review: A smash hit in its native Sweden, Majgull Axelsson's second novel, April Witch, is both a fantastic and earthbound story of memory and regret. Desiree Johansson is born with a variety of birth defects into Sweden's welfare state of the 1950s. Abandoned by her mother, Ella, to a life of institutions, Desiree ends up at age 50 wracked with pain and seizures, unable to walk or speak, and grieving over the imminent death of a doctor she loves. But Desiree is also an April witch, strong-willed within her bodily prison, and able to track, psychically, the movements of three women who were raised by Ella as foster children. Full of envy and contempt, Desiree comes to see the world through the eyes of her stepsisters, each of whom has endured fortune's extremes. This far-fetched tale is nicely balanced by veteran journalist Axelsson's talent for suspense, grit, and criticism of mid-20th century conformity. Axelsson's prose is crisp and penetrating, a perfect voice for a novel whose characters' inner lives are monitored, revealed vicariously. --Tom Keogh

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Title: April Witch: A Novel
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Very Good

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Majgull Axelsson
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