An American woman wakes up alone in a tent in the Norwegian mountains. Outside there is a storm and the fog is dense. Her cell phone is dead. She doesn’t have a map or a compass or any food. She actually came to Norway to seek out distant relatives, but when her trip goes awry she contacts a zoologist she met by chance on the plane. She ends up accompanying him on a musk oxen hike through the Dovrefjell mountain range, but here too everything goes wrong.
Out of the mist a picture gradually emerges of a past, a personal disaster, and a desperate search for new meaning. Even those you have lost everything, still have something to lose.
In The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland, Houm displays great psychological insight and paints a unique portrait of sadness that is impossible not to be moved by.
For readers who like: Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See, Rachel Cusk and Ian McEwan.
‘An elegantly composed, well-written and psychologically credible crisis novel.’
‘(…) combines both surgically precise observations with the pace and attention to detail as the best tv-series. The similarities with Don De Lillo and Jonathan Franzen cannot be denied.’
‘Houm skilfully crafts a rising curve of excitement, not unlike that of a thriller.’
“Wait for it to crystallise, and this unpredictable narrative — both quirky and bleak — dishes up a dark chronicle of grief that gets under your skin.”
Powerful, symmetrical, and well-controlled, the story’s double narrative gradually reveals Jane to us even as she nominally disappears.
Far and away the most intriguing suspense novel I have read this year… Reading ‘The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland’ is like taking incremental doses of a drug without realising it’s addictive... a virtuoso performance in ensnaring the reader.
As sinister, unsettling and melancholy as it is compelling, this slim page-turner leaves you guessing until the end.
The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland is a beautifully observed account of one woman’s alienation, deep hurt and slow road to recovery... We are still haunted by this fine novel long after finishing it.
Whenever you feel you’ve figured out what this book is about, it turns on you, it switches perspective and reveals another side of itself that you didn’t imagine could be there… a character-based page turner that answers questions without letting the reveal be the sole payoff.
Houm’s novel is expertly constructed…The characterisation is sharp and perceptive… A thoroughly accomplished piece of writing.
Meditative... witty... compelling... with a dark, mysterious undercurrent... a hugely enjoyable read.”
A mature mix of severely bleak and heartwarmingly bright makes for a fine short novel