In addition to being a mystery, this novel is also trying to make a statement about the number of women who are violently abused in Sweden. Each section of the book is introduced with a statistic about the subject. In the end, I'm not sure the novel does anything more than make the reader aware of how horribly women can and are abused in Sweden.
The novel was written before the author passed away in 2004, but Larsson seems to have predicted some of the current economic events that we have been witnessing for the last couple of years. Late in the novel, after a major financial player has been exposed as a fraud, Blomqvist discusses the Swedish economy, but he could be discussing the American economy or any other economy that is market driven:
"You have to distinguish between two things--the Swedish economy and the Swedish stock market. The Swedish economy is the sum of all the goods and services that are produced in this country every day. There are telephones from Ericsson, cars from Volvo, chickens from Scan, and shipments from Kiruna to Skovde. That's the Swedish economy, and it's just as strong or weak today as it was a week ago...The Swedish Exchange is something very different. There is no economy and no production of goods and services. There are only fantasies in which people from one hour to the next decide that this or that company is worth so many billions, more or less. It doesn't have a thing to do with reality or with the Swedish economy."If only the latter didn't affect the former so much these days, we would all probably be much better off.
Something about this book made me think of the Sidney Sheldon books that I read, and thoroughly enjoyed, as a teenager and young adult. It's been too long for me to remember enough details to make a real comparison, but I recall that there was some kind of mystery/crime to be solved. If I remember correctly, though, the main female characters usually ended up happier than the Salander does in this novel. Still, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes crime novels.
More Spring Break Reading
- On Sunday, I read Mary Oliver's introduction to The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne. (I like the Modern Library Classics editions.) I don't know if I read something about this book recently, but I have been wanting to read it ever since I finished War & Peace. Before I purchased the book and read the introduction, I had forgotten that one of my favorite Advanced Placement essays required an analysis of a passage from this novel. Maybe I will post about the passage when I get to it in the novel.
- I started The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean yesterday and read a bit more early this morning. It's my book club's current selection, and I think it will be a quick read. So far, it's interesting, but I'm not completely hooked. The story is about a Russian emigre with Alzheimer's. She clearly remembers evacuating the art from the Hermitage in Leningrad during World War II, but she can't remember much present information from one moment to the next.
- This morning, after I read more of The Madonnas of Leningrad, I read the introduction to George Eliot's Middlemarch, another Modern Library Classics edition. The introduction was written by A.S. Byatt. I have wanted to read Middlemarch for a long time, but I am such a slow reader that I often postpone starting such long books, 799 pages in this copy. However, after reading Byatt's introduction, I don't think I can put it off much longer.
- Finally, this morning, I read "The Sisters," the first story in James Joyce's Dubliners, which I have never read. I have read the story "Araby" and maybe "The Dead" before, but I don't think I have read any of the other stories before today. I have a Vintage International edition, which doesn't have an introduction, so I just jumped right in to the first story.
- This afternoon, UPS delivered my latest LibraryThing Early Reviewers book, Easter Parade by Richard Yates, which brings to three the number of books that I have from this program waiting to be read and reviewed. I still need to read Etta by Gerald Kolpan, which just came out today, and Rocket Man by William Elliot Hazelgrove.