Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors, translated by Misha Hoekstra
Now in her 40s, Sonja moved to Copenhagen as a student, glad to leave behind smalltown life in rural Jutland. Although she’s always been happy with her own company, she’s now lonely, unable to reconnect with her sister and nostalgic for the dramatic landscapes of her childhood. It’s perhaps no coincidence that she finds herself better at reversing than driving forward, but can she embrace the future without backtracking on life?
With just the right balance of poignancy and humour (I didn’t laugh once, but I certainly smiled) and, while definitely a novel of character, just enough plot, Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is a lovely story about navigating contemporary life as a single woman. Or indeed, as a city dweller who yearns for the countryside; an introvert who craves authentic intimacy; or anyone unsure how to respond when others fail to respect their boundaries. (In addition to the driving instructors and massage therapist who go beyond their professional boundaries, Sonja’s best friend, Molly, is a psychologist who chats about her clients when they meet up for dinner.) Thanks to Pushkin Press for my review copy.
My TBR shelf has been overflowing in recent months, but I was prompted to read this one by Irene Waters’ Past Times prompt for November on the subject of driving which seems to have provoked some humorous memories. Why not pop over and share yours?
Making Space by Sarah Tierney
Although the wit and polish the opening pages raised my expectations of something deeper, this is a competent exploration of our relationship with stuff, and its origins in attachment issues, framed by a May-to-September romance. While mostly set in the city of Manchester, I was delighted when Miriam and Erik took a trip to Morecambe, calling in at the same hotel (although unnamed in both) where Liesel and Steve stayed my second novel, Underneath. Although no longer the season for holiday reads – unless Christmas counts – Making Space would merit a space in your suitcase, especially if staying in an Art Deco hotel in a rundown northern seaside resort. Thanks to Sandstone Press for my review copy. For another novel about overzealous collectors, see my review of Lost Time Accidents.