Sunday, April 03, 2011
This is a book by mystery writer Henning Mankell. He strays from the genre to tell the story of Frederick Welin, sole inhabitant of a skerrie off the coast of Sweden. He is a 66 year old former surgeon who left his profession under a cloud. He is isolated and sees no one but the hypochondriac postman and his pets. Then he spies a figure with a walker struggling across the ice toward him. It is Harriet, a woman he once loved and abandoned. She has incurable cancer and she wants to make him keep his promise to take her to a forest pool he'd once told her about. She also introduces him to the daughter he never knew he had. His intense involvement with the two women leads him to a reconciliation with the patient he mutilated years before. It's a good story. At times it's a bit incredible but good writing saves it. Through his sometimes fractious relationships with his daughter and her mother Frederick is able to undertake a journey back to humanity and to reach out to others who need him. It's a hopeful story about redemption and insight gained late in life.