The Cold Song: Book summary and reviews of The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann

The Cold Song

by Linn Ullmann

The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2014
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Ullmann's characters are complex and paradoxical: neither fully guilty nor fully innocent

Siri Brodal, a chef and restaurant owner, is married to Jon Dreyer, a famous novelist plagued by writer's block. Siri and Jon have two daughters, and together they spend their summers on the coast of Norway, in a mansion belonging to Jenny Brodal, Siri's stylish and unforgiving mother.

Siri and Jon's marriage is loving but difficult, and troubled by painful secrets. They have a strained relationship with their elder daughter, Alma, who struggles to find her place in the family constellation. When Milla is hired as a nanny to allow Siri to work her long hours at the restaurant and Jon to supposedly meet the deadline on his book, life in the idyllic summer community takes a dire turn. One rainy July night, Milla disappears without a trace. After her remains are discovered and a suspect is identified, everyone who had any connection with her feels implicated in her tragedy and haunted by what they could have done to prevent it.

The Cold Song is a story about telling stories and about how life is continually invented and reinvented.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The latest and best from Ullmann...resists categorization, except as a literary page-turner. It's a murder mystery. It's a multigenerational psychodrama of a dysfunctional family. And it's a very dark comedy of manners" - Kirkus

"Ullmann teeters between dark comedy of manners and genuine psychological thriller, but she consistently captures the telling moments in everyday encounters, and writes seductively complex characters." - Publishers Weekly

"Readers who appreciate an unconventional narrative flow will find this a deeply moving story of troubled relationships and unsettled memories." - Booklist

"The Cold Song is a fluid, shape-shifting novel, a family saga that turns into an erotically charged drama and then takes a darker turn into the terrain of a murder mystery. Linn Ullmann is an unusually talented and sympathetic writer, able to inhabit a wide range of characters and bring them all vividly to life." - Tom Perrotta, author of Nine Inches: Stories and The Leftovers

"This delicate, mesmerizing work attests to Ullmann's vast storytelling powers." - Jennifer Egan, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award

"Readers of this novel will be reminded of the joys and complexities of living. Memories, laughter, gestures, trivialities - everything casts a shadow, and nothing leaves us safe. Linn Ullmann has mastered the art of seeing into the dark mysteries that make us who we are." - Yiyun Li, award-winning author of The Vagrants and Kinder Than Solitude

"Linn Ullmann's The Cold Song is a haunting novel about all the ways we endeavor to love and be loved, and the many mistakes we can make while trying. It's suspenseful and beautifully written and so absorbing that I could not put it down." - Vendela Vida, author of The Lovers and Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name

"Combining the tension of a whodunit with the subtlety of a domestic drama, Ullmann's riveting novel is measured, impeccably observed, and utterly chilling." - Rebecca Mead, author of My Life in Middlemarch

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Linn Ullmann is an award winning author, journalist, and literary critic. She has published four other novels in 33 languages, all of them critically acclaimed international bestsellers: Before You Sleep, Stella Descending, Grace, and A Blessed Child. Ullmann is a cofounder and former artistic director of the international artist residency foundation of The Bergman Estate on Fårö. She lives in Oslo with her husband and children.

Barbara J. Haveland translates fiction, poetry, and drama by leading Danish and Norwegian writers such as Peter Høeg, Ib Michael, and Jan Kjærstad. Recent projects include new translations of Ibsen's The Master Builder, Little Eyolf, and A Doll's House. She lives in Denmark.

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