A Time for Honesty is a sweet, gently paced romance, set in Norway and written by Norwegian author Mette Barfelt. I suspect it’s the first translated work that I’ve read this year.
The translation is excellent and the book is clean. By which I don’t mean that it gratefully interprets “adult” as mature and thoughtful rather than explicit – although it does. What I really mean is that this editor with 25+ years experience didn’t find a SINGLE typo or grammatical error. I honestly can’t remember the last time that happened when reading ANY book – traditionally published or self-published.
The cultural details about Norway and Norwegian culture add ambiance without being intrusive. I love to travel, and although we haven’t yet hit Norway in our travels, I found myself longing to try the reindeer filet and Norwegian cakes; to try my hand again at slalom, etc.
One thing you’ll notice immediately is that the pace of the novel, like the town in which its characters reside, is measured and calm. Since I’ve been reading a lot of thrillers lately, I found that slightly offputting at first. But eventually it came to me that this is a novel paced for a more deliberate time. I’ve been gorging on microwave popcorn – Barfelt is serving us hand-stirred risotto.
In many ways, this novel reminds me of the era of Henry James. The characters are thoughtful and deliberate. The language and construction also even, thoughtful; albeit a tad formal. I’m not sure if the formality is due to the translation or the style, bit if anything it adds to the gentle charm of the book.
The characters are well-drawn although at times I must admit that I wanted to slap our dear protagonist upside the head for the excruciatingly painful snail speed at which she addressed the problems in her life. Her sister Julie, with whom she had a “Jerry Springer”-level complex relationship, I understood. (I didn’t LIKE her sister; but I did understand her.) And the differences between the sisters in many ways drive the tension in the novel. Early on, Julie complains of our leading lady, Emmelin: “How anyone could live like this, engulfed by so many items, was a mystery to Julie. She liked things clean, tidy and simple.”
The leading man, Dennis, is equally pensive, deliberate and patient. “He felt drawn between different emotions for her. It was faith and doubt, mixed with disappointment and betrayal…”
I strongly recommend this book for a relaxing rainy afternoon read.
– Read via Kindle Unlimited