Sofie & Cecilia by Katherine Ashenburg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a literary, fictionalized biography. As such it does not have a climax. It is even and true to life throughout. This makes it possibly boring for many people. However, if you understand that the author, Katherine Ashenburg, normally writes non-fiction then you can perhaps come around to the genius of this story.
As opposed to plot this is more of a character study. Ashenburg bases her main two women (and their husbands) on two women who actually existed. While the names, some of the details and events are fictionalized; the core storyline is based on actual events and people. The story is split into two perspectives Sofie first, and then Cecilia. It's a little tedious at times to experience the same event from both sides; but Ashenburg limits the number of times that happens.
This is not a fast-paced story. Instead it's very lyrical and literary. The way the art is described, the people, the situations and the thoughts of our characters are all done with a gorgeous literary style that I admire. Ashenburg did not lightly write this story and while the pacing is a bit slow; the overall artistry of the story matches up well with the main topic of Swedish art.
This is an odd book that overlaps part of it's timeline with World War II. Odd in that the war is a relatively small factor. Our main characters mostly live in Sweden which is a neutral, unengaged country. It was interesting to me to feel what many in the neutral countries might have felt while the whole world was at war. This was a very different way to see the war for me and I, while it's a small part of the overall story, it made a large impact on me.
If you are interested in Swedish culture or Swedish art then you are likely to enjoy this book. If you don't mind a character study as opposed to exciting events this this is for you. Sofie & Cecilia is a different type of book but that doesn't make it a poor read. I found it to be an interesting read and would merely want others to be aware of what they are getting into at the forefront.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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