Poverty, violence and liquor is part of everyday life on the little island outside of Kaskö in Ostrobothnia. Here the sea is always present, as a life giving force and as a barrier between the islanders and the rest of the world.

Tova and her two kids are running away in the middle of the night. Once she was happy, in love and her whole life was ahead of her. But it does not take long before her husband’s drinking leads to abuse, and finally Tova realises that she has to leave. Taking a chance, if only to ensure the survival of her children.

Her mother Mari on the other hand never had a chance in life. She was an unwanted child, put to hard work in the household, no better than a slave. So when Tova is born out of wedlock Mari becomes forever stuck in the loveless, and poor parental home where her mother, a hardened crofter, rules with an iron fist.

For generations the women in Tova and Mari’s family have been tormented and abused by men. But in Tova there is the power to break the bonds of a destructive life. With the help of her friend she escapes from her personal hell, towards a brighter future.

This is a novel about the fate of three women; about breaking a vicious circle and regaining power over ones own life.


First published by Forum förlag, Sweden 2010
265 pages


It is a promising novel /…/ Overall, she has a good ability for setting the mood, she finds vivid details that create a sense of authenticity. In addition, the story is well-crafted with its shift between different times and places, and there is also a credible suspense element which makes one engage in Susanna, Mari and Tova’s story.
Svenska Dagbladet

“Vinteräpplen” contains several complex human fates. There is a smell of mop water, sea and blueberry sprigs. It is a large piece of 20th century history told from the kitchen perspective.

As a generation novel it is somewhat reminiscent of Marianne Fredriksson’s “Anna, Hanna and Johanna” – although Sundström has a better command of her language. There is nothing literary grand about Josefine Sundström’s debut novel, however, there is something very promising. I hope that she has even more powerful stories to tell.
Upsala Nya Tidning

As a debut novel, “Vinteräpplen” is both convincing and very promising.
Gefle Dagblad

Sundström’s writing is effortless, simple and engaging, she is insightful and empathic.

An amazingly great book about women’s hardships, very moving, beautiful and well-written.
Skaraborgs Allehanda


Sweden, Forum