I recently finished a collection of stories by the Swedish author Helene Tursten called An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good. The book contains five short stories about a the life of a very elderly matron, Maud, and how she deals with people who step into her sphere. These stories got my attention with their dark humor, mystery, and insight into how other cultures look at life (and murder) in a more raw and crude manner.
The first story, An Elderly Lady Has Accommodation Problems, introduces Maud in her apartment when a young art graduate. Jasmin is seeking to take over Maud’s apartment because of its roomier size and prettier view of the skyline. When Maud gets sense of the young lady becoming too friendly, things begin to change. After multiple visits to see Maud and her dwelling, Jasmin invites Maud to come look at her apartment decorated with phalluses in multiple shapes and sizes. Read on.
In An Elderly Lady on Her Travels, Maud visits Sardinia to unwind and take care of family. While there, she reminisces about various excursions to Cairo and the South Pole. In this one story you come to understand how Maud continues to be the one family member who takes care of others before herself. She even does so through many challenges, such as taking care of her mentally ill sister.
Other tales include a tale of Christmastime in Sweden with a twist of mystery when she hears loud voices next door and learns of an “accident” to her neighbor. Maud senses there is a bigger story behind the accident than what was told and is determined to get to the real truth.
Translated from Swedish by Marlaine Delargy
– Review by Micah, St Matthews Library