A Good Life
Original title: Et godt liv
Publisher: Tiden, 2016
Genre: Novels and short stories
Pages: 380 pages
Jens M. Johansson’s big breakthrough in Norway, shamelessly praised by critics – readers are already calling it a Norwegian Elena Ferrante.
The story revolves around Elsa. We follow her from when she is born on the day before the Second World War breaks out, and to her death. Simon is the narrator. He is married to Elsa’s youngest daughter. Katya has always been furious with her mother. Now – as Katya and Simon’s marriage is falling apart – he starts to piece together Elsa’s forgotten life. Simon’s pursuit through letters, diaries, small notes and receipts gradually becomes more desperate.
He has to understand Elsa in order to understand Katya, to save their marriage. And most importantly – he is afraid he will inflict his son Leon with the unhappiness he feels in his own marriage.
The novel describes Elsa’s social climb and a world in quick transformation: a world war, a sexual revolution. It shows how minor details are crucial to a human’s destiny. It’s about the fragile choices we make in our lives, about expectations and betrayal. A moving story about belonging.