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The following consist of excerpts from longer reviews. Omissions have not been marked. A link to the full review has been provided if available.
“If you loved reading Normal People or watching Marriage Story, this is the novel for you.”
I’m in complete awe of Anja Snellman’s writing. There is a clear intentionality and precision to her language, an art that I rarely see executed with such beauty and power.
I want to take a highlighter and mark line after line to use as exemplars of characterization. I want to dive again and again into these absorbing chapters to see each stage of their relationship and the intricate details that define them as individuals and as a couple.
Snellman is a practiced study of character, and her patient eye captures the minutiae of the couple’s lives in acute detail. These details feel like pieces of a puzzle. If we look at the sum of the pieces, at the falling into place of the sights and sounds and thoughts of their lives, we can understand the inevitability of the relationship’s end.
And yet, the book is not solely about drifting apart and grief. It is every stage of love, all of the passion, all of the sparkling new hope and energy, all of the intimacy and urgency of the honeymoon phase. It is the mundaneness of middle age, the trials of growing up and apart. It is vast, it is personal, it is, in short, a masterpiece.
“You root for them but also enjoy their lives being exposed in this clever and highly technically competent novel with a warm heart.”
First of all, this small paperback is a lovely, well-made object and the cover excellent. Continents: A Love Story takes a forensic view of a couple’s journey through what the impulsive, artistic Oona describes as “the continents of love”, from sultry Asia, where it’s mostly about the bedroom and you learn a lot of information, not all useful, to, perhaps, the threat of Antarctica.
As they travel through Australia, the land of small children and discovery, and Europe with its new hobbies and redecoration projects, Oona’s cartoon couple, whose books she lives off, Rainbow and Scoop, echo her and Alex’s journey, their cats pass through their lives and their children grow up and react to them, in a skillful interweaving.
Oona wants a room of her own, and Alex grows a beard in some desperation: you root for them but also enjoy their life being exposed in this clever and highly technically competent novel with a warm heart.
—Liz Dexter, Libro book blog
“Thanks again for introducing me to this bright literary voice.”
The basic theme of Continents is simple; Oona and Alex are at first passionately in love; they’ve started their map life together, as Oona sees it, on the continent of Asia:
Their Asia was pure enchantment – it lasted for their first summer and the following one, if not longer. That first summer, they were busy making their first child on the smooth cliff by his grandmother’s villa.
I enjoy the way Anja Snellman conveys the delirious excitement of this erotically charged, blissful and intimate stage of a marriage, while showing it grounded in the humdrum and everyday. Their passionate intensity and mutual absorption is even slightly comical when described from the outside like that. That’s well observed.
Anyone who’s been in a long relationship will recognize with a frisson this occasionally comical, deadly serious way of charting the stages of a relationship, in this case a marriage. Thanks again for introducing me to this bright literary voice.
—Simon Lavery, Tredynas Days book blog
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