Thursday, 13 February 2014

A House Without Mirrors by Mårten Sandén

I have already confessed once to enjoying a good translated book. I should also now confess that I am rapidly becoming obsessed with Pushkin Press's children's list. A House Without Mirrors is the second Pushkin Press book I've read, and it certainly won't be the last.

The story is told from the perspective of the 11-year-old Thomasine, who lives in a large house with her relatives and her dying great-aunt Henrietta. Her father spends the majority of his time caring for the elderly woman, while her aunt and uncle seem to be more interested in how to split the inheritance once Henrietta does die. Thomasine's cousins have their faults as well: vanity, shyness and trouble-making.

With a slight nod to Narnia, the children discover a wardrobe where all the mirrors in the house were hidden. Yet when they step inside, rather than being taken to another world, they are transported to another time in a mirror image of the same house.

The story is supplemented with beautiful illustrations by Moa Schulman. The style of the book itself may appear to be aimed at younger children, and while they can certainly enjoy the story, an older child and certainly an adult can appreciate the difficulty of love and grief that Thomasine and her family experience.

Translated from Swedish by Karin Altenberg and published by Pushkin Press, Mårten Sandén's A House Without Mirrors is not one to be missed. It is a fascinating look at how we all have an inner struggle, and what could happen if we only face it.

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