This deceptively simple novel, set in Norway and told in exquisitely lean prose, is full of erotic exchanges between a married couple. At times painful to read, it is also compulsive. The narrator, still in love with his wife – he calls her Timmy after an upbeat cartoon character – tries to make sense of their twenty-year marriage. The tale unfolds with the inevitability of a Greek tragedy.
We quickly learn that he left his first wife and their two-year-old daughter for Timmy, then a young medical student whom he first encountered when she examined his daughter’s throat. Oddly, this is the moment when Timmy appears at her most tender. Otherwise, it’s difficult to warm to her: