Vigdis Hjorth's new novel starts as a classic story of inheritance, centred on two summer cabins on Hvaler. Two children have been looking after the place and their parents for many years. They are due to inherit the cabins. But there are two other children, who have partly broken away from the family. How do they fit into the inheritance dispute?
During the inheritance discussions another story emerges which brings violent forces into play. It's all about family history.
Will and Testament is a powerful novel, which certainly created great debate when it was first published in 2016.
WINNER OF THE NORWEGIAN BOOK SELLERS AWARD AND THE NORWEGIAN CRITICS AWARD IN 2016.
LONGLISTED FOR THE US NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR TRANSLATED LITERATURE IN 2019
NOMINATED TO THE NORDIC COUNCILS LITERATURE PRIZE 2016.
Press reviews Abroad:
Will and Testament is a compulsively readable novel, one that turns questions of shame into weapons against silence.
New York Times Book Review
Like Knausgaard, Hjorth is writing against repression, against the taboo on telling things as they really are. But he urges us to look at dead bodies; she forces us to regard bleeding souls. Hjorth seems to have formulated from her experiments with living models a model for living, in which exposure—of the self and of others—serves a larger purpose.
Hjorth’s thoughtful, drily funny, and often devastating novel will leave a deep and lasting impression on readers.
Will and Testament is a reminder that it’s easier to hide darkness than face it ... Hjorth argues cogently that conflicts and atrocities often stem from what a nation represses or denies.
In a ruthless yet patiently delivered work, Hjorth does something that few writers achieve: Will and Testament is both economical and overwhelming.
An extraordinary book. ... Hjorth’s precision, on the other hand, becomes a quietly devastating mimicry of the effects of trauma, and of ambiguous and conflicting memories, on a human being.
In this unappealing but compelling book, Hjorth proves brilliant at revealing the stubborn, unredemptive quality of childhood suffering.
The strength of the novel lies in Bergljot’s convincing and continuing vulnerability, in her mixed feelings and her flaws … A clear-eyed and convincing story of a family’s doomed attempt to reconcile and the limits of forgiveness.
Vigdis Hjorth is one of my favorite contemporary writers.
SHEILA HETI, AUTHOR OF MOTHERHOOD AND HOW SHOULD A PERSON BE?
Press reviews from Norway:
Only Vigdis Hjorth is able to handle a serious topic in such a strong, intelligent and poetic way.
Vigdis Hjorth has written her best novel; about a sexual assault that destroys all the relationships in a family… Vigdis Hjorth writes about the conflicts that build up in an authentic, everyday language - but something quivers between the lines. There is an energy, a level of suspense in the story that only exists when something is really at stake.
The way Vigdis Hjorth writes takes us straight into the lives and life choices that most people recognize around us and within us.
Vigdis Hjorth’s new novel is furious and wise, trembling and stringent.
Hjorth dispenses secrets with Ibsen-like precision, so that the level of suspense is maintained up to the very last of the 343 pages.
Vigdis Horth’s new novel, about heritage and the guilt in all words’ meaning, is abhorrent. But good… “Will and Testament” is a hopeless book about a desperate yearning for justice. Definitely interesting, extremely well written, and with well-portioned suspense. But dark, without the humorous oblique glance that tends to be Hjorth’s trademark. “I didn’t know how it was to be a healthy person, an unharmed person, I had no experience other than my own."
Press Reviews Scandinavia:
Thematically really interesting. Psychologically believable and contesting.
Vigdis Hjorths outstanding and trembling novel about a family settlement is not the story about money. It is a story about feelings and family dynamics. *****
One of the good angles of the book is that Bergljot, despite being a victim, is not depicted as an angel. *****
BERLINGSKE TIDENDE, Denmark
Wills and Testaments could have been a heavy and sorrowful book, but that is not the way Hjorth writes. Paradoxically it is actually quite funny, for Vigdis Hjorth never lets her characters off easy. And Bergljot is not a person that treads elegantly into the room.*****
KRISTELIG DAGBLAD, Denmark
Will and testament is a very strong and thought provoking story about a person that has to give up reconciliation to save herself.*****
Will and Testament is a continuously engaging novel that can’t be forgotten once you’ve read it. It could be described as an explosion – but a completely controlled one. It continues to ache within the reader, like when an irrefutable and heartrending experience has been fully formed.
When I closed Norwegian Vigdis Hjorth’s novel Will and Testament, I was both exhausted and elated at the same time. It’s the kind of text that leaves me feeling that this was exactly how it should have been written – with this language, in this form. /.../ And what a skilled writer she is, Vigdis Hjorth!
SVENSKA DAGBLADET, Sweden
It is dark and dreary, but also highly entertaining and witty. Vigdis Hjorth is a fantastic narrator with a strong sense of forward-movement and clear language, which Ninni Holmqvist has contributed to with her smooth and perceptive translation. The characters are complex; they waver, change their minds, and send mixed signals.
GEFLE DAGBALD, Sweden
Its strong emotional truths take hold of you immediately – even before the family secret’s consequences are made apparent: I do geared page after page to mark off insights, movements, formulations.
DAGENS NYHETER, Sweden
Will and Testament is an extremely well-written novel, a novel with a sort of tactile feeling – if a novel can have that. I myself scribbled in pencil in the book: painterlike, colloquial flow, feverishness, psychoanalysis, among other descriptions. Because Vigdis Hjorth works with rhythm. She has chapters that can only be two lines. She writes as if with a paintbrush when she is capturing the weather or a place.
KULTURNYTT I PL, Sweden
The novel, exciting as a detective story in its furious, emotional flashbacks, is a formidable showdown between an upper-class family whose exterior, reputation, possessions, symbols of wealth and lifestyle are more important than anything else.
The story’s themes of inheritance, family secrecy and the right to one’s own experiences are striking – whether they are true or not. Equally striking is Hjorth’s prose. /.../ A drama whose different characters many people can recognize themselves in, no matter which traumas – great or small – you might bear.
BORÅS TIDNING, Sweden
Will and Testament is primarily a novel about the inner process. Bergljot’s state of mind is illustrated with a breathless, linguistic rhythm that is deftly translated by Ninni Holmqvist. /.../ It is agonizing that life’s difficult situations can’t always be sorted out, nor can the damage be forgotten. Hjorth’s novel is truthful because it expresses why this can’t always be done. And none of the reasons can be found in the author’s biography, no matter how it might look.
Will and Testament is a strong novel. But not because of sensitive revelations, but thanks to the portrait that emerges of the slightly alcoholic Bergljot. A person who practices self-taught self-therapy and who truly seems to balance on the edge of reality.