Before You Sleep by Linn Ullmann

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Synopsis

A beautifully rendered, keenly detailed, and sexually frank novel about motherhood and marriage, love and infidelity

Spanning three generations in the life of a Norwegian family, Before You Sleep sparkles with wisdom, acuity, and style and carries with it the excitement of a genuine literary discovery. As the novel moves from present-day Oslo to 1930's Brooklyn, Ullmann tells her story through the voices of the eccentric and formidable women of the Blom family whose passions and prejudices have formed an intricate web that bonds grandmother to mother, and mother to child.

Hailed by European critics as "a real masterpiece," and "playful and melancholy, entertaining and disquieting," Before You Sleep unflinchingly explores the emotional terrain of marriage and motherhood, which Karin, the novel's young, complicated narrator, characterizes as "an endless stream of broken promises." Karin's wry, witty, and candid perspective suffuses the novel and it is she who introduces us to the others: her sister Julie, a wife and mother nearly destroyed by her husband's infidelity; their mother Anni, the irresistible seductress, and Aunt Selma, who drinks to stay mean and who fries girls' ears for breakfast.

Linn Ullmann's marvelously accomplished and assured debut, already an international sensation, unfolds with the sweep and color of a symphony and heralds the arrival of a mature and gifted literary talent.
 

About Linn Ullmann

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Born in 1966, Linn Ullmann has lived most of her life in New York City and Oslo. A graduate of New York University, Ullmann has worked as a literary critic at one of Norway's leading newspapers since 1993. She currently lives in Oslo with her eight year old son.Tiina Nunnally is an award-winning translator of Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish. Her translation for Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow, won the Lewis Galantiere Prize, given to the American Translators Association.
 
Published October 1, 1999 by Viking Adult. 256 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Before You Sleep

Kirkus Reviews

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Norwegian author and critic Ullmann debuts with this intriguing, looping meditation on the history of the Blom family, told by young Karin in jagged, emotionally oblique prose.

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Publishers Weekly

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A rich portrayal of mother-daughter relationships, Ullmann's ambitious first novel spans nearly 70 years and four generations of a Norwegian family perpetually in battle with itself. Narrated by Karin

Oct 04 1999 | Read Full Review of Before You Sleep

Publishers Weekly

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Julie's matrimonial woes unpleasantly echo the divorce of the sisters' parents, the annoyingly eccentric but ""irresistible"" Anni, and the distant, uncommunicative man Karin calls only ""Father."" This in turn leads Karin back to her grandfather Rikard, who turned his back on his homeland and ma...

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