Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review - Stella Descending by: Linn Ullmann

Title: Stella Descending
Author: Linn Ullmann
Publisher: Pİcador USA
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from Turkish publisher for review


On a warm night in Oslo, Martin draws Stella into one of the risky games that have defined their ten years together: a balancing act on the edge of their rooftop, seven storeys up. Amid the shouts of horrified onlookers, Stella stumbles, falling for a moment into Martin's arms before plummeting to her death. Did he try to save her?

This is the question that begins Linn Ullmann's transfixing tale of Stella: a jealous wife, compliant mistress, treasured friend, angelic nurse, unloved daughter, devoted mother, and - finally - a woman possessed of a secret now forever lost to the living.

My thoughts:

Here's what's up: Stella and Martin are a couple who go up to the roof at the beginning of the book for an unknown reason. And Stella falls; both metaphorically and literally. Eye witnesses think they got into a fight which ended with the fall, however, most of them have seen them embrace at one point. Of course, the question in everyone's and the police's mind is, did Martin push Stella?

I must point out that Stella Descending reminded me of Marquez's Chronicles of a Death Foretold not from due to subject-matter but due to structure. In Chronicles of a Death Foretold, we know from the beginning that Santiago Nasar will end up dying, just like we know that Stella died and how she died. And just like Marquez, Ullman too unfolds the details later thoughout the book and everything comes together in the end. It would be wrong to say you "definitely" understand what the hell was going on because it will not be something you anticipated from the beginning; your guesses will likely be very, very wrong in the end. 

The story is told from different character's points of view: Martin, Stella's lover and the person who was with her on the roof; Amanda, Stella's daughter from her first husband; Alex, the old man who's in love with Stella and Corinne, the detective who's looking into Stella's death. In between, there are parts where Stella is telling us things and also parts that include the eye witness accounts. And in some chapters, we see parts of the video that Stella and Martin have filmed for their insurance company. Maybe because she's the one who ends up dead, I felt sympathetic toward Stella from the beginning and I blamed Martin for her demise. I can even say that I was SURE he pushed her off the roof. I did not like Martin at all because until his relationship started with Stella he was such an über-playboy, he didn't like Amanda at all and he thinks Bee, Stella and his daughter, is a monster. Of course, as the book went on, I realized that almost all the characters are rather crazy.

If you're looking for a dark novel that will keep you guessing while putting forth the dirty minds of humans, then this might be the right read for you.

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