The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of Agnes Ravatn's exciting new novel, The Bird Tribunal, blog tour this week. With much thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.
Published by : Orenda Books
1 September 2016
Copy : Paperback - Received from publisher as part of tour and for honest review
Two people in exile. Two secrets. As the past tightens its grip, there may be no escape… TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough… Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless.
The Very Pink Notebook Review
For the first few pages of this book I was really unsure how I would fare with it, I struggled a little with the style. However, once I relaxed into it and let the narration take over, unhindered, I quickly became intrigued.
Although not a great deal of 'action' happens at the beginning, the two (and only) characters, Allis and Bagge, are such complex and intense people you want to find out how the simplest of things are processed in their very strange minds. Just the day to day dance between the two is deeply immersive to the reader. In a sense I felt I was intruding on an exceptionally long term of foreplay, even through the most mundane of day to day tasks.
Alongside this is the yearning to know the history of the characters. We quickly ascertain Allis, a well known TV personality, has fled from the disgrace of infidelity (on her part). It is more difficult to find out what is going on with Bagge however, because we only ever see his story through the eyes of Allis. Allis is given glimpses of a dark side of Bagge, his mood swings, his strange dreams of The Bird Tribunal, the sly comments from the old women at the local store, but Allis only wants to believe in the gentle side she sees emerge.
I was intrigued what the title of the novel would relate to and when I did discover it I thought it was absolutely fascinating.
I also loved learning the story of Balder, which is punctuated throughout the novel and thought it was very cleverly interwoven to help enhance the story of Allis and Bagge.
If you asked me in which era this book is set I would struggle to identify it. I felt as if it should be much older than what it is, given Allis is a TV personality and Bagge makes a comment regarding the house being over 100 years old built in 1890's, this steers it to be quite recent. To be honest though it could probably be set at any time because both characters have chosen to remove themselves from the outside world, to create their own.
With its unusual writing style, I was inclined to use the words intriguing and fascinating a lot in the review and in summary these are the two I would use again, along with unnerving and enthralling.
This beautifully translated (Rosie Hedger) English Pen Award winning book receives :
About the Author
Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her literary debut with the novel Week 53 in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections: Standing, Popular Reading and Operation Self-discipline, in which she recounts her experience with social media addiction, and how she overcame it. The Bird Tribunal won the cultural radio P2's listener's prize for this novel, a popular and important prize in Norway, in addition to The Youth Critic's Prize. The Bird Tribunal was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015.
Follow the Tour
Read other reviews of The Bird Tribunal by following the tour: