This was a great palate cleaner after a series of intense nonfiction reads. It was light and fun and I really enjoyed diving into Ingrid’s unique flavor of crazy.
Ingrid Winter is desperately trying to hold it all together. A neurotic Norwegian mother of three small children and an overworked literature professor with an overactive imagination, Ingrid feels like her life’s always on the brink of chaos.
Her overzealous attempt to secure her dream house has strained her marriage. She’s repeatedly reprimanded for eye rolling in faculty meetings. Petulant PTA parents want to drag her into a war over teaching children to tie their shoes. And an alarmingly persistent salesman keeps warning her of the potential dangers of home intrusion.
Clearly she needs to get away. But Russia? Forced to join an academic mission to Saint Petersburg to promote international cooperation, Ingrid finds herself at a crossroads while drinking too much cough syrup. Will this trip push her into a Siberian sinkhole of existential dread or finally give her life some balance and direction?
I think I’ve mentioned before that I absolutely love reading Women in Translation. It started when I found Women in Translation Month over on Biblio and it has brought me books like this. Well, it worked with Kindle First to bring me books like this. Kindle First does have a tendency to have some WIT selections and I appreciate that they’re doing their part on this. This was yet another example of how reading translation exposes us to experiences we would not have had. While the author is new for me, I have also read another book translated by Chace, The Unbroken Line of the Moon which was also a great book but for vastly different reasons.
The premise is fairly simple and something that could be encountered anywhere, sure, but it was Ingrid herself that made this so much fun. I’ve read and seen on television several versions of paranoid white American woman and it’s just not fun anymore. It’s too predictable or trying to hard not to be. But then this. Ingrid Winter is Norwegian and handling her problems in ways that are not necessarily foreign to that paranoid white American woman but different enough that I was thoroughtly entertained.
There were a early-ish moments when I knew I was going to enjoy myself, the first was her explanation of how much she hated meetings and the way she avoided them. I was pretty sure she was going to be a likeable character after that, which didn’t exactly turn out to be true. I liked her in that “I’m going to watch your form of crazy from afar” kind of way. We couldn’t be friends, maybe not even coworkers, but she would be a great distant cousin to call and catch up with just to make sure that I’m not the craziest or most imposive person my family.
I really wanted to see her succeed throughout the story and stick to Peter and Ingvil too. Everything about her work life made me cringe and be ever more grateful that I have escaped the world of endless meetings where nothing gets done and where things like “internationalization” is important. It was in the work stuff that I felt sorry for her for most of the book. Then Russia and I really started to have fun with those two creeps and what was going on and her plunge into some really great paranoia. I mean really great. I’d feel bad for a real person in this situation with these people and this level of paranoia, but as a fictional character I’m not sure it could have been more fun. And I especially loved the way each piece of her story was resolved.
As opposed to most of my reading, it’s not particularly deep or enlightening, it doesn’t change the way I see the world or give me a window into an unfamiliar culture. It’s just fun and a little ridiculous, just as the title and synopsis promise. As a comedy and one that centers around a woman who already has her love life together (as opposed to many books of it’s nature that surround women who are looking for love), it’s a book that I’d recommend to any of my friends. I do especially love that it’s a book about a woman my age in about my life situation; working and married with kids but haven’t perfected any of it yet.
This was my Febuary Kindle First read. I’m a little late in getting to it, but am doing better this year than last year with reading them and getting reviews posted. You can still find it on Amazon for about $5. When you’re in the mood for something funny and crazy, it’ll be worth every penny.