Vera is a nurse from Sweden who, while delivering a dangerous birth in the Colombian jungle, makes contact with indigenous people who give her a wholly different outlook on life. A traumatic experience takes her home, her life in pieces just like the world as she now sees it. Her quest to put her life back together becomes tied up with her vision of a more sustainable world.
She meets the corporate heir to a company specializing in luxury travel who has a predatory attitude to women. Could such opposites really attract? And, if they came together, could they actually do something to halt the global march to self-destruction? An exploration of the inter-connectedness of human life, an unexpected love story, Integrity delves deep into the choices and emotions of a woman trying to change the world, and a man trying to change with her.
Borgeryd initially captured my attention a quarter of the way through the story, Vera’s story of narrowly escaping with her life while volunteering in Columbia was the incipient hook causing my antennae to quiver, however, it was short lived.
No complaints with the writing and translation, both very well done, the issue is with the characters and narrative. My attention was pulled and pushed equally. The narrative was monotonous as well as redundant. Vera, Peter along with the supporting cast were unappealing. They came across has mere figures on paper no dimensionality whatsoever. Numerous starts and stalls where Borgeryd reined in my focus until the pedestrian narrative pushed my focus far far away, repeating this vicious cycle until the very end. I’m confident if the length was pared down by 200-250 pages or so my attention could have been held to a higher level. Vera and Peter are lifeless and annoying, a clear case of much too much telling and definitely not nearly enough showing, benign characterization didn’t help fuel the fire.
If Borgeryd controlled the disarray and stayed on path, not to mention breathed life into her characters I would have been more receptive, than again this might be best enjoyed in its native language or perhaps it all boils down to a matter of taste. An awful lot to inhale until you reach the end leaving this reader exhausted and frustrated.
A detailed mature part coming of age story, part opposites attract romantically with a few very interesting subplots and points tossed in, you’ll enjoy Borgeryd’s effort, writing and translation softens the labor.
Anna Borgeryd has a PhD in conflict management and is chair of the family business Polarbröd. She is a musician and film-maker and this, her first novel, started life as a screenplay which won several awards in Sweden. She has been an adviser to the Swedish government’s Future Commission. She has given a TEDx lecture on The Dawn of a New Economy and in 2014 she was named among the fifteen most influential environmentalists in Sweden. She blogs at Wood and Blue.
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