Book Review: Fylgia by Birgitta Hjalmarson

Book: Fylgia

Author: Birgitta Hjalmarson

Published: 2018

Publisher: Bink Books (Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company)

Pages: 229


Not all of us fell asleep!

But I did take my time reading Fylgia. Fylgia is that kind of rare book, that while you know you want to find out what it is all about, the process of reading slowly is satisfying in itself. Birgitta Hjalmarson draws you in – into the historical fiction story of Anna, her family and her village as a part of Sweden around the time of WW1.

Fylgia unfolds within two timelines. In one we find Anna as an old woman in mourning and in the other we meet Anna as a young woman searching for her own kind of life. As a young woman she yearns for things that at the time were not suitable for women. Years later there is loss of a child and the loss of her lover to be dealt with and explained. You can guess at the story and yes, in many ways these things could have happened to other women too. But the end will surprise you and you will feel sadness for those involved. At least I did.

Anna’s story is real. It has actually happened. Birgitta Hjalmarsson spent a lot of time and effort in getting out the story from those, who were reluctant to share it with her at first. You see, Birgitta Hjalmarsson was a stranger to them. After return visits and persistence over the years, enough trust was created. Swedish roots also helped here.

What is fylgia, you may ask? I too was curious and so I googled it. Fylgja with the letter J can mean a spirit who accompanies a person and can take the form of an animal such as a mouse, an ox, a cat or even a deer. Norse mythology is of help here. Fylgja can also mean the afterbirth or the caul that covers in some way a new-born baby. You will form your own understanding when reading the book, but keeping the above in mind will be helpful.

I do recommend the book. Mostly it is because the writing is beautiful, informative and it kind of surrounds you. It is easy to imagine the scenes, actions and even smells. The characterizations are strong and varied, though one might feel that there are too many people in the book. Fylgia is certainly a good choice for those readers who like WW1 or Swedish history. Women’s issues will be of interest to some. Birgitta Hjalmarsson is aware of culture and this shines through, which makes this book delightful. There could still be an editorial read or two, but I cannot let this influence my rating – even if the five is not the strongest kind.

STARS: 5/5


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