Breathless by Anne Sward

Book Review by Ryan Rushton | 27 Mar 2012
  • Breathless
Book title: Breathless
Author: Anne Sward

Anne Sward's Breathless is told from the perspective of Lo, who in looking back on her childhood examines a relationship she has been unable to escape. When she first meets Lukas she is only six years old, while at thirteen he is coming into adolescence. Now an adult, Lo has moved away from the isolated, rural environment she and Lukas made their own and leads a nomadic life, forever changing cities, jobs and partners. The genesis for this is traced back to the events of her fifteenth birthday; a night during which her relationship with Lukas is changed forever. However, this gives some idea of the main problem with the novel, which is that Lo is defined by her relationships with men. Removing her from these contexts we find there is very little left of her and such a two-dimensional female protagonist feels archaic in a modern novel. Translated from its original Swedish the writing is adequate to the story, but the poetry fails to come through, if it was ever there. Possibly interesting flourishes, such as the referencing of Godard's film from which the novel takes its title, fail to resonate with the themes in the way that they should do. [Ryan Rushton]

Out now. Published by Maclehose. Cover price £12.99