By Marianne Fredriksson

This is the story of Stina – a gifted, intelligent young woman with both feet firmly on the ground. When she meets Per, she loses that foothold. He is charming, handsome and full of life, as well as of strange stories about his background and upbringing. He falls in love with her and she falls madly in love with him, and so they get married. Stina’s mother is glad to see that Per has brought some spirit into the life of her demure daughter. Her father, a police detective, is more doubtful. He sees psychopathic traits in Per.

Stina and Per settle down in a pleasant suburb in the northern part of Stockholm. Stina continues her research studies at university. But when she becomes pregnant, life takes a dramatic turn for the newly-weds. Per tells her she disgusts him. Stina withdraws into a silent, solitary world, while Per begins to abuse her sexually and physically. She begins to see what her father saw in Per. Unable to tell her parents about her problems, she keeps her own counsel, and is ashamed.

When Per rapes Stina and comes close to killing both her and the baby, Stina’s father ultimately intervenes. Per is sentenced to six months in prison. After he is released, he goes to the U.S. to stay with relatives there. The divorce comes through, and Stina is free. She rents an old summer house in a quiet small town. Then she realises she is pregnant again, and knows it must have happened when Per raped her.

Time passes. From the US, Per demands visitation rights for his daughters. Stina has a network of friends, but lives in constant fear of losing her children. Moreover, she is plagued by a deep sense of confusion: How could she have loved that man, lived with him and accepted the way he treated her? Her feelings of guilt know no bounds. When she finds a therapist who can help her, she gradually begins to understand what makes a psychopath tick.

First published by Prisma, 2006
235 pages

Sweden, Prisma
Sweden, PAN/Norstedts (audio book)
Sweden, Grote Letter (large print)
Sweden, Alis
Denmark, Fremad
Norway, Damm & Son
Finland, Bazar
Germany, Krüger Verlag
The Netherlands, De Geus