The Summer Game
ORIGINAL TITLE: Sommarleken
AUTHOR: Ellen Mattson
ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Albert Bonniers Förlag
It is summer vacation, and seventeen-year-old Sandra is exploring the forested coastline near her parents’ home. One day, as she is following a trail she believes leads to a swimming cove, she suddenly finds herself in front of a beautiful old house in an overgrown garden. Marika, the owner of the house, lives there along with her three teenaged grandchildren. As their mother is gravely ill, the youngsters’ parents have remained at the family home in Switzerland.
Sandra is immediately invited in by the teens, who curiously scrutinize and interrogate her as if she has come from another world. In reality it is the teens — with their elegant yet worn clothes — and the house itself that seem to have stepped straight out of a fin de siècle painting.
Sandra is inexorably drawn to the house; it is as though she becomes bewitched by and obsessed with its dilapidated beauty and the people who live inside. While the siblings allow her into their everyday lives, they never truly accept her into their inner circle. Sandra wants so badly to belong that she is driven to prove that she is good enough, and one day she goes too far. By the time summer draws to a close, everything has changed.
In her unfailing style and beautiful prose, Ellen Mattson creates immediate tension under the apparently so tranquil surface, and this contrast gives rise to a unique and powerful atmosphere. It’s not for nothing that Ellen is mentioned as the next Kerstin Ekman.