Publication Date: Apr 23, 2019
Like diving into the mind of a brilliant, infuriating friend, this novel dissects the experience of “the other woman” with tremendous wit and insight.
When Ester Nilsson meets the actor Olof Sten, she falls madly in love. Olof makes no secret of being married, but he and Ester nevertheless start to meet regularly and begin a strange dance of courtship. Olof insists he doesn’t plan to leave his wife, but he doesn’t object to this new situation either…it’s far too much fun.
Ester, on the other hand, is convinced that things might change. But as their relationship continues over repeated summers apart, and winters full of heated meetings in bars, she is forced to realize the truth: Ester Nilsson has become a mistress.
Ester’s and Olof’s entanglements and arguments are the stuff of relationship nightmares. Cutting, often cruel, and written with piercing humor, Acts of Infidelity is clever, painful, maddening, but most of all perfectly, precisely true.
Excerpt from Acts of Infidelity
Olof called a few days after the run had ended and suggested lunch at Blå Porten on Djurgården Island. The choice of location implied time for togetherness and immersion, the start of a new phase and a reorientation from old to new; it implied that Ester had been correct in her calculations, particularly because he wanted them to take the ferry instead of reaching Djurgården by bridge.
The day when everything would begin was upon her. They’d decided to meet at noon at the Djurgård ferry. Anticipation made it difficult for Ester to swallow. In her apartment, which she’d lived in for five years yet still hadn’t furnished properly because she’d always been about to leave, hindered only by the fact that she didn’t have anywhere to go, she spent the morning putting fresh sheets on the bed and, on the kitchen table, a wax cloth from the Ten Swedish Designers group which she’d bought the day before on Götgatan. Further down the hill, she’d found three beautiful Art Deco lamps, which were now on the windowsills. It was late November and forever dark. Ester counted on being able to light them for Olof in the afternoon.
At the stroke of twelve she was on the dock, waiting in the gray mist. It was one of those days when nothing seemed to be moving, all was still. Olof was fifteen minutes late. Ester was determined not to mention his tardiness, but saw that his movements were tinged with unease. Perhaps he was gripped by the thought of all that lay before him; this was a big step to take.
“A thoughtful and sharp exploration of how our culture views infidelity.” —Elle (UK)
“Andersson (well served by Saskia Vogel’s subtle translation) is an electrifying writer.” —Times Literary Supplement
“Engrossing…a cogent, astute novel.” —Publishers Weekly
“Andersson’s writing, crisply translated from the Swedish by Vogel, is wry and refreshingly unsentimental.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A razor-sharp take on being a mistress…Andersson adroitly juxtaposes contemporary practice against human nature; the epilogue is a pure gut punch delivered to everyone: the married, the single, the hopeful, the desperate.” —Literary Hub
“This is a follow up to Willful Disregard, but you don’t need to have read that to appreciate the craftsmanship of Acts of Infidelity…Andersson’s book is cutting and honest, and Ester’s situation and feelings are frustrating, complicated and so, so real.” —Stylist
“I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this truly stunning read…It’s so insidious and calculated, and this intellectual giant of a woman so blind to reality, that I wanted to shake her. Endless wisdom and elegance—buy immediately.” —Daily Mail
“A novel of heartbreak told with intellectual rigor. It gripped me from first page to last. Fantastic!” —Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
“There are few people writing about love and longing with such unflinching sharpness and insight as Lena Andersson. She gives feelings and experiences so often dismissed as trivial the attention and gravity they deserve, to brilliant, and often painful, effect.” —Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure