The Little Girls
Of course, to outsiders it seems idyllic
a little, white-washed cabin, partially concealed
by a few clusters of
windblown pine trees
People are stirring in there; the holidaymakers are waking up. Soon this summer morning will be under way, filled with longings and needs, but also with rules and handed-down admonitions. Love and scorn, side by side. Do this, not that; speak like this, not like that; and how do you behave? The rebukes threaten to consume the day. But then it opens up, in the imagination or in life, and something is finally able to happen.
The woman in The Little Girls wants to be liberated from ghosts, to connect with her daughters in a sincere way; she dreams of genuine intimacy across roles and ages. Perhaps that’s not possible, but you’re still allowed to hope.
«Monika Isakstuen’s novel is like a summer storm: It can be brutal and intense, with thunderclaps and whipping winds. But behind the storm clouds, a blue and reconciling sky peeks through, with dreams of change and a new, dawning summer’s day.»
«Let’s not beat around the bush: "The Little Girls" is a really good book, a wise, funny and moving story of motherhood, grief and longing for closeness. No least, it is told with refinement, and astonishingly balanced for a novel told from a first-person point of view.»
«A new example of Monika Isakstuen’s gift for finding ever new, original, and clever ways of putting evergreen themes into words.»
«By bringing to light the reflexes and obsessive patterns found in our relations to our close ones, and the generational conflicts often tied to them, Isakstuen paints a precise, concentrated picture of, well, almost everything that is challenging about juggling the different roles one plays in one’s life.»
«Energetic, playful, tender like a bruise, and clever. Thought provoking. […] Isakstuen paces her book exquisitely. I’m happy to see how she dares to use this level of playfulness.»
«"The Little Girls" is episodic and often cinematic, written in a prose as sharp as the shell of an oyster.»
«Move on, get away, I think; suddenly realizing how clever it is to make the reading experience mirror the main character’s sense of claustrophobia.»