I'll come right out and say it, I didn't like the book. But I think it's not because the book is badly written or because of the subject matter, rather I think it's because I just didn't get it. To me the book seemed disjointed, repetitive, and boring. And yet I feel that it's me that's the problem and not the book.
Looking at online reviews, I am struck by one that says, "The 'payoff', if it can be called that, is not a gratification of the reader's curiousity, but an impressionistic portrait of the sum total of a life." There. That's it. That's the problem. I dislike movies and books that are portraits of anything or anyone. I like a story, I want something to happen. Ideally, something where the bad guy is punished and the good guy rides off into the sunset to live happily ever after. I don't get coming of age stories, or ones that depict a certain epoch. I find them boring because nothing happens. I don't care about the characters and I don't care what happens to them.
I also think that not knowing Norway's history hurt my understanding of the book. I kept waiting for something about the Germans or the Holocaust to come up in the book. And other than a reference to some Germans guarding a bridge, there was nothing about the war or any part of it. I can't say that if I knew more about Norway's and Germany's interactions during the Holocaust I would like this book, but it couldn't hurt. I kept reading this book and feeling like I was missing something. Like the author was trying to say something subtly by the comings and goings of Trond's father in his youth and how the family moved around some, but I was left in the dark. And I just remembered that it was a translation, that may also have influenced how I felt. I did feel like I was missing something probably lost in translation.
I also read the book in fits and starts on the subway to and from work. I wonder if that contributed to the book feeling disjointed. I read that way all the time and usually can pick up where I left off, but I had a hard time remembering what happened in this book and a lot of the memories seemed similar and thus repetitive. And then that twin shot the other one. After the twin shot his brother. And then when the twin accidentally shot the other twin. It was hard to find my place time after time. I came away from the book feeling like I'd visited an old man who told me the story. The book seemed to take forever to read even though it was a short book.
How did you ladies feel about the book? What was discussed? I feel that I am being too harsh on the book. I wish I had more story/character-specific questions but I don't remember the book very well anymore and I feel that there wasn't a whole lot of questions from the story for me to ask.