If Only

If Only

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A groundbreaking but timeless early work from one of the world's most heralded novelists.

A relatively young woman, aged thirty. She married in her early twenties, had two children. It is winter. January and minus 14°C, white, frosty mist around the parked car, around the spruces, the mailbox on its post, but higher up the sky is blue, clear, the sun has come back. She has written in her diary that she is waiting for the heartbreak that will turn her into her true self. She has an impending sense of doom or possibly her own death.

So opens Vigids Hjorth’s ground-breaking novel from 2001, which melds the yearning, doomed potency of Annie Ernaux’s A Simple Passion with the scale and force of Anna Karenina. It asks, can passion be mistaken for love? And proceeds to document the destruction a decade defined by such a misconstruction can yield on a life.


  • An absorbing study of inner turmoil ... gripping

  • Vigdis Hjorth is one of my favorite contemporary writers.

    Sheila Heti