Chatto and Windus, 2016
An altogether painterly book, full of vividly evocative scenes.
Mail on Sunday
A tale of lost innocence, the power of art and the pain of love.
THE STRAWBERRY GIRL (Chatto and Windus, 2016)
Summer 1893. In the Norwegian town of Åsgårdstrand, Johanne Lien is a sixteen-year-old strawberry picker. She is also an exceptional painter but is yet to discover her own talent. Naturally attracted to the artists that flock to her town every summer, Johanne is especially drawn to the enigmatic recluse Edvard Munch, rumoured to be a madman and a drunk.
When Johanne is sent to work as a housemaid for an admiral, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with the admiral’s youngest daughter. Fiery and rebellious, Tullik Ihlen is also drawn to the mysterious Munch and encourages Johanne to forge a friendship with him. When the young women start visiting the artist at his cabin, Tullik falls in love with him, and a secret romance quickly develops between them, one that Johanne must help to conceal.
But Munch is a complex and tormented man, haunted by death, anxiety and insanity. His troubled disposition has a disturbing effect on Tullik and what begins as a flirtatious summer romance gradually descends into a darker struggle between two tortured souls. Their pain leads to an outpouring of creative work, culminating in the agonising cry of The Scream, a painting that would change the world forever.
Buy your copy of The Strawberry Girl
Strømme has a strong eye for capturing a scene, from the hubbub of a small fishing port to a quiet woodland in full blossom. The novel also cracks open the strictures and striations of Norwegian society, and the impact censorship has on all kinds of artistic expression.
The Herald Scotland
The novel highlights wider issues too, including whether art transcends consideration of others, or can excuse the inexcusable.
Bewitching debut novel .…. It’s a vivid, intoxicating blend of fact and fiction, desire and creativity. If you’re passionate about art, you’ll love it – and if you didn’t think you were remotely interested in it, you will be by the end of it.
A lovely, poignant and evocative novel .... Delicious.
Copyright. All rights reserved. Lisa Strømme 2022