Agneta Pleijel translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy

A Fortune Foretold

Publication Date: Jun 13, 2017

256 pp

Trade Paperback

List Price US $14.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-59051-830-4


List Price US $13.99
ISBN: 978-1-59051-831-1

Agneta Pleijel writes a painful yet humorous autobiographical novel about the disarray of childhood in the aftermath of World War II.

A prophecy is received by a beloved aunt, a prophecy that her young niece eagerly waits to see fulfilled.

The story takes place in the 1950s in the suburbs of Stockholm, in the university town of Lund, and the United States. Neta’s childhood is dominated by geographical movements. She reads—books give word to the vagueness of existence—and is often busy thinking about the female sex, family, and the stupendous diversity of people in the world. Her dad, a mathematician, and her mom, a musician, are very different from each other. They are in constant conflict, but she loves them both.

Slowly she realizes that she’s grown up in a lie. She must carefully tread through the war zone that her parents’ marriage is increasingly turning into.

This is an insightful tale about the search for truth, morality, and a place of your own in the world.

Excerpt from A Fortune Foretold

Letters from family, letters from friends. I read them in the nineties, after the death of my father, and made a decent job of sorting them out. Life, the result of which is death, made no demands. And yet they complained a little. Whimpered. All those who are dead.

Not that they complain in the letters, but because their lives are over and yet…unfinished. Once they were pressed close together, just as when the topmost branches of tall trees brush against one another, unseen by those down below, just as they do here by the old house in the archipelago.

I listen as I take the towels off the line in the mornings. The sound is melancholy. Helpless, somehow. It is August 10, and my father would have been one hundred years old today if he had lived. I sit in the room that was my aunt Ricki’s when she was a girl; it is very small, with a view over the steep drop down to the Sound.

The trees have grown sky-high since I was a child. Down by the quayside there is a twisted pine tree. It is old and in the process of dying, yet it still extends a gnarled arm out across the surface of the water. A child could lie there and read, just like in an English children’s book with lots of mysteries.

Quiet. Not even a sailboat to be seen.

“Deeply inquisitive… A delicate study of a young girl’s maturation, airy and filled with imagery of light…funny, familiar, and profound.”—Kirkus Reviews

“…Pleijel’s fictional autobiography is distinctly written, melancholic in tone, yet there is hope and humor behind the darkness. [A fortune Foretold] will strike a chord with lovers of literary historical fiction and those interested in exploring adolescence and the human condition in an evocative time and place.”—Booklist

“Lucidly written autobiographical novel from distinguished Swedish author/critic Pleijel…readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories will appreciate how Pleijel refreshes the trop, realistically giving us a young heroine who understands the world in bits and pieces, as if flying through clouds.” —Library Journal

“It sometimes happens that a writer manages to find and swing open the well-hidden doors to the very heart of their literary passions and expressions. This is what acclaimed Swedish poet, playwright and novelist Agneta Pleijel has managed to do. The result is a brave, beautiful and engaging tale of a young woman navigating the potentially treacherous waters between the erotic cravings of the adolescent body and the poetic hunger of the literary and intellectual mind.” —Göran Rosenberg, author of A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz

“[A Fortune Foretold’s] dissociated narrative style…adroitly complements the narrator’s striving to reassemble and reconcile a distant, chaotic, peripatetic life. Highly recommended.” —Historical Novels Review

“Agneta Pleijel’s marvelously lustrous autobiographical novel is one that will set the tone for others.” —Expressen

“A classic coming-of-age story, in short, but also captivating in an unconventional way. Agneta Pleijel’s language is carnal and melancholic…Pleijel has created a vibrant portrait of a family rooted in a specific zeitgeist, but at the same time living in a historical period of progress. Like many children of the fifties, Agneta Pleijel decides not to be like her parents. She wants…to be a writer. How fortunate for us.” —Dagens Nyheter

“Despite a distressing and dark plot it is as always very pleasant to find oneself in the language of Agneta Pleijel. A Fortune Foretold is a low-key, grand novel about a family who has lived in a messy lie, about a suffocating mother-daughter relationship, and about the immense issue: what is love?” —Svenska Dagbladet

A Fortune Foretold affects me strongly, both emotionally and intellectually… Agneta Pleijel is a linguistic master and an attentive psychologist. Nothing is superfluous, nothing is missing.” —Göteborgs-Posten

“Frank, captivating, and wistful.” —Aftonbladet