A moving, compelling and powerful new novel by the author of Depths and the Wallander Mysteries
Once a successful surgeon, Frederick Welin now lives in self-imposed exile on an island in the Swedish archipelago. Nearly twelve years have passed since he was disgraced for attempting to cover up a tragic mishap on the operating table. One morning in the depths of winter, he sees a hunched figure struggling towards him across the ice. His past is about to catch up with him.
The figure approaching in the freezing cold is Harriet, the only woman he has ever loved, the woman he abandoned in order to go and study in America forty years earlier. She has sought him out in the hope that he will honour a promise made many years ago. Now in the late stages of a terminal illness, she wants to visit a small lake in northern Sweden, a place Welin’s father took him once as a boy. He upholds his pledge and drives her to this beautiful pool hidden deep in the forest. On the journey through the desolate snow-covered landscape, Welin reflects on his impoverished childhood and the woman he later left behind. However, once there Welin discovers that Harriet has left the biggest surprise until last.
Italian Shoes is as compelling as it is disturbing. Through his anti-hero Welin, Mankell tackles ageing and death with sensitivity and acuity, and as with the critically acclaimed Depths, delivers a moving tour-de-force on the frailty of mankind.
“Mankell's words fall like snowflakes, building up to make even the most ugly thing something of beauty...The strength of women, the bestiality some men are capable men, and the impermanence of life are some of the themes that Mankell once again spins into a quiet masterpiece”
Kieran Meeke, Metro
“vivid prose...translated beautifully”
Ian Thompson, Evening Standard
“present a spare tale of metaphors and symbols to argue that, in the middle of life, we are in death but occasionally, and happily, the opposite too”
Tim Pashley, Times Literary Supplement
“as stark as anything he has written...an unflinching emotional honesty”
Joan Smith, Sunday Times
“well-defined characterisation ... authoritative plotting”
Barry Forshaw, Daily Express
“Mankell is lyrical about the frozen landscape he knows so well.”
Carla McKay, Daily Mail
“A fine meditation on love and loss”
Sally Cousins, Sunday Telegraph
Joan Smith, The Sunday Times
“Mankell carefully maps the changing seasons in beautifully stark prose”
James Urquhart, Financial Times
“The cool, enigmatic tone is reminiscent of Paul Auster”
Brandon Borshaw, Independent on Sunday