Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Karin Michaëlis: The Dangerous Age

I first came across mention of this Danish masterpiece in 500 Great Books by Women, one of those big round-ups of somewhat neglected literature that have made me haemorrhage money in second-hand bookshops. Critic Erica Bauermeister had this to say: “At forty-two, approaching that ‘dangerous age’ and determined to eliminate the hypocrisy in her life, Elsie divorces her husband, leaves behind a young potential lover, and retreats to an isolated villa on an island... First published in 1910, [this] is still a shockingly forthright and provocative book."

And it's a bloody good one, too: one of those freakishly modern Scandinavian novels (see also Amalie Skram, Hjalmar Söderberg and the like). Elsie's bitterly honest letters to friends, her ex-husband, and to a potential lover, and her diary entries recording her tumultuous thoughts, her encounters with servants and her failing plans, are quite compelling.

For the cover I used an evocative photo by Olof Werngren: this picture of a woman about to plunge naked into the cold Scandinavian seas reminded me very strongly of Elsie and the evening bathing she does off the shore of her isolated island.

You can get the book at Lulu, Amazon UK and Amazon US (ISBN 978-1445793566). And thus Whisky Priest Scandinavia is off the ground!

And coming soon from Whisky Priest: Anthony Trollope's forgotten science-fiction novel...