Winner of the Riksmål Society Literature Prize 2014
It's 1955. A young man named Paul comes to a little island community in the far north of Norway to be a substitute teacher for a year. Ada is a cleaner at the school and mother to a girl in the class he teaches. Ada was born with a large and disfiguring birth mark which she tries to hide by always wearing a headscarf.
Little by little Paul gets to know Ada and her daughter. He helps them with herding sheep and ploughing on their little farm. Paul is attracted to Ada despite her appearance, and even though
she is several years older than him. He is able to see another Ada behind the veil, a strong and remarkable woman, and for this reason she is beautiful to him. He finally manages to break through her shyness. He sees her without her headscarf and they start a relationship that they have to hide from everyone.
Several years later, he is retired and on a car trip in the same area with his much younger wife, who he hasn't told anything about his past.
Ada is a moving novel set in the magnificent landscape of Northern Norway. A classic love story about a mismatched couple, fate and nature, profundity and superficiality, despair and shame.
‘Depiction of both the characters and environment is great. Klippenvåg uses his own local knowledge and paints a vivid picture of Lofoten. We envision the small, roadless, rural community and its beautiful surroundings where everyone looks after and watches each other. The quality of the novel is primarily due to the language. Klippenvåg uses very polished and eloquent language.’
‘Ada could easily have become a melodramatic and banal novel with a tried-and-tested yet overused theme. But Odd Klippenvåg’s form and language raises this book to something gripping, believable and beautiful. This is because the narrator – using slightly old-fashioned yet mouldable language – never falls victim to speculative descriptions or hyper-sentimental portrayals. And the astonishing and surprising conclusion of the story gives Ada a gravity that makes it well worth reading.’
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