Saturday, 29 April 2017

Totta - Riikka Pulkkinen

'– Nainen tarvitsee elämässään kahta asiaa: huumoria ja punaiset korkokengät, äiti sanoi. –Tohtorintutkinto on hyväksi, mutta ei välttämätön.'

'– A woman needs two things in her life: a sense of humour and red high-heeled shoes, mum said. – A doctorate is for the good, but not necessary.'
Surely my aunt isn't missing this book yet // Featuring
orienteering gear in the background.


I nicked this book before I left home. And by nicked, I mean that my mum had borrowed it from her sister, and surely she won't miss it before next month, when I'm back again?

Anyway. I read this and you might be asking, "why do you bother when you'll probably be complaining afterwards how it just wasn't good enough?", and I'd be wondering the same thing. I seemed less than impressed with Paras mahdollinen maailma, and here we are with a 3/5 again. On the plus side, these things are very addictive and I just had to know what was going to happen (even though what happened wasn't good enough for me in the end).

Totta ("True") is a weird book. It sounds from the blurb to be a story about a dying woman, Elsa, but actually focuses more on the affair her husband, Martti, had with a different woman, Eeva, fifty years ago, from this third wheel's point of view, told by Elsa and Martti's granddaughter, Anna. Confusing? Yes. Interesting? Sure. But it is also a bit jumbled and doesn't always tell me all the details I want. I'm not sure if this multi-layered, strange sort of storytelling worked all that well for this story, when I would have been just fine with Eeva and Martti's POVs. Martti's point of view wasn't actually included; instead it did this annoying thing where Eeva could supposedly read his mind at all times. It was quite annoying.

In general, Eeva's life was very interesting to me. In the 1960s, she is a young woman from the countryside, studying French at university and working as a maid for a wealthy family. The relationship between her and the husband (whom she exclusively refers to as 'the man', interesting enough) quickly turns into something more, and she also starts to really care for their daughter. Of course, there's the marriage she didn't come to wreck and the wife whom she doesn't dislike enough to take everything from her.

Also, me being me, I was constantly confused since this book had too many characters whose names started with E; Elsa, Eeva and Elsa's daughter Eleoroona, whom they also called Ella sometimes. It was weird and sometimes I'd be confused whether the husband was kissing Elsa or Eeva (or Ella, even).

Style-wise, Pulkkinen is clearly skilled. I'm just worried she might be running out of new tricks. Out of her five books, this is the second one, and the ingredients seem to be the same ones as in the one I've read; someone's dying, there's something they didn't have the time to say, someone else is an all-seeing, all-understanding oracle of sorts, telling someone else's story for them. Add in a disappointing ending and a lot of strings of story that were never really explored, and you have this.  In general, it's a 3/5 from me; it wasn't all that great and I feel like I preferred Paras mahdollinen maailma, if only because when I read that, all of the author's old boring tricks still felt new.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 28: You have read only one book by this author before!

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