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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Shadows in the Twilight
by Henning Mankell
Age Range: 12+
Joel Güstafson’s journey of discovery about himself and the small town in Northern Sweden is beautifully observed. Joel first appeared in Bridge to the Stars and this book finds him a year older (now aged 12) in 1957.
He thinks that nothing ever happens in his small town where the winter lasts forever. One day Joel very nearly gets run over by a bus but is miraculously unhurt. As a result of this ‘miracle’, Joel decides that he must do a good deed of some sort to show his gratitude. He puts together a plan to help out one of his oldest friends, ‘no nose Gertrude’ – he intends to find her a partner – but it doesn’t go according to plan.
Henning Mankell is able to get inside the head of the sensitive Joel by showing his ingenuity and frequent humorous attempts to do good deeds. The rich characterisation of the inhabitants of the town like Gertrud, with her outlandish home-made outfits, Samuel who takes Joel on dangerous voyages on the Celestine from the kitchen table and the eccentric Simon Windstrom who lives in a dilapidated house in the woods, all play an important part in Joel’s life.