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Karin Brunk Holmqvist, Potensgivarna (The Potency Givers)

Kabusa Böcker,  2004. ISBN: 9189680375

Reviewed by Marie Allen in SBR 2005:1

This is a novel with great potential to be funny and heart-warming. Unfortunately it is too predictably written and the two main characters almost make the reader feel belittled. The story is about two elderly un-married sisters, Tilda and Elida Svensson. They have remained in the family home ever since their parents’ death, and nothing much has changed. The loo is still outside, the heating and cooking is still provided by the stove and water is fetched from the well. Although life has not given them everything they desired, they are content, except for the nagging brother, who wants the house as a summer house for his demanding wife, and would thus prefer the sisters to move to a nursing home – for their own comfort, of course. They would not dream of it, but as far as comfort goes, the outdoor loo is getting harder to stand as age takes its toll. Suddenly there is a change of neighbours, bringing both excitement and worry. The well where the sisters fetch their water is on the adjoining property. But the neighbour turns out to be a charming new gentleman, Alvar Klemens, who soon has the sisters buying new dresses and enjoying a late, almost flirtatious flush of male entertainment. One day they happen to see a local tomcat eating some soil out of Alvar’s flourishing petunia pots, and as a result, seemingly induced with amorous power, pouncing on an unsuspecting feline. Blushing, the sisters watch the act – and an idea about how to make money to pay for an indoor loo is born. While this may sound like quite a good story, it is sadly let down by inadequate characterization and a lack of story development. The idea of selling (by mail order) the substance Alvar swears by to feed his plants – as a “natural Viagra” – is fun. But the description is not. The only real “potency giver” in the book is Alvar Klemens! Alas, the two sisters are the most boring old biddies on earth – in fact, they are absolute textbook biddies! A paperback edition of Karin Brunk Holmqvist’s Potensgivarna has now gone on sale in Sweden. Foreign rights have been sold to Germany, and a German translation is scheduled for publication in 2005.

Other reviews by Marie Allen

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