Book Review | There is too much in the novel too: almost 800 pages of country prose with its collective protagonists

Heidi Jaatinen’s fifth novel dates back to the 1920s.


Heidi Jaatinen: Suvanto. Gummerus. 776 s.

Heidi Jaatisen The fifth novel Backwater continue where Rapids (2018) remained. Living in Northern Savonia in Kiuruvesi, Koski farm. The Civil War is behind us, but old bloodshed is being carried out and new ones are happening.

People are still either red or white. Despite the dichotomy, however, we are moving towards something new, as events date back to the 1920s. Jaatinen accurately refers to the social background of his novel.

Presidents and governments change, tribal war attracts young men. The Crofters Act changes local conditions, and the mower does most of the work in the field. Spanish disease is also mentioned, conservation issues are being discussed.

The rural village is not yet used to cars, and the plane seen in Helsinki, Junkers, is an achievement of technological development.

The progress of time is announced at the beginning of the novel’s chapters in years and months.

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House with inhabitants and the village with its houses is a subject of Finnish literature. But who or what are the protagonists of Jaatinen’s novel?

“Men are so hard, almost impossible to keep in touch,” sighs the young and inexperienced hostess Stiina for starters. He is described as “fragile” fragile and soft in nature. He is the opposite of Tilda, the barn maid of Vanttera.

I assumed that Stiina and Tilda are the protagonists, two women from different social classes and with different natures.

I read about menstruation, pregnancies, childbirth, male worries. Also on the workload and solidarity of women. In addition to Stina and Tilda, the story reveals the growing daughters of Kosken’s house. They become students and banking ladies, emancipated heralds of the new age.

But women they are allowed to give way when the host of Tuure and his son SpongeBob arrive on the scene. Soon women will be seen through the eyes of Tuure and Paavo. It is the fateful Olga, described by Paavo as “a degenerate Jewish beauty”.

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The short-haired Tyyne is more common, but Paavo finds it not as fascinating and arousing as Olga. The young man’s women’s affairs are shaken with a sidekick.

Tuure, on the other hand, eats comfort food and looks fatty. The man mourns his aging and makes his wife Stiina pregnant this one. Sons are born. Even from the previous joint, they are already slippery.

The personal cavalcade expands as the narrator also zooms in on the house payrolls. As a reader, I have to go back to who this maid or slave was now. Or was it a villager or someone from somewhere else?

As I read, I read i find myself remembering time and time again Maria Jotunin Everyday lifenovel (1909), in which the spectrum of human life from birth to death can be accommodated in one day and a couple of hundred pages.

Pruning and compacting are jotunia, widening from jaat, as the name of the novel already suggests thoroughness. Namely, a backwater is a deep and wide point in a stream where water moves more slowly than elsewhere.

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So Jaatinen writes sluggishly wide prose. The narrator sails from everyday event and person to person, stopping at times to describe the landscape like a poet. Winter looks like this: “The stars are hanging, the wool of their coats is blistering. Out of the open air hovered the delicate showers of ice cream, the diamonds as the hotspots of the hoarfrost. ”

Jaatinen’s language is bloody and border-moving, even occasionally verbs: “Beast and whitefish gnaw at the Christmas table next to each other, and birds“ bloom ”in the spring.

But there is too much in the novel too. Nearly 800 pages of country prose and its collective protagonists would have needed a vesuri, pruning would have clarified the role of Stina and Tilda.

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