It is October 1914, and Swedish naval officer Lars Tobiasson-Svartman is charged with a secret mission to take depth readings around the Stockholm archipelago. In the course of his work, he lands on the rocky isle of Halsskauml;r. It seems impossible for it to be habitable, yet it is home to the young widow Sara Fredrika, who lives in near-total isolation and is unaware that the world is at war. A man of control and precision, Tobiasson-Svartman is overwhelmed by his attraction to the half-wild, illiterate Sara Fredrika, a total contrast to his reserved, elegant wife. Soon he enacts the worst of his impulses, turning into another, far more dangerous man, ready to trade in lies and even death to get closer to the lonely woman without losing hold of his wife. Matters of shame, fidelity, and duty are swept to sea as he struggles to maintain his parallel lives, with devastating consequences for the women who love him.
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The New Press
March 31, 2007
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