Tag Archives: Maria Turtschaninoff

Naondel

This sequel-prequel to Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff hits even harder for the feminist camp. Naondel makes you feel that – almost – all men are evil, but when you stop and think, you see it is mainly one, very bad, man who causes all that happens.

In Naondel the reader learns how the world we meet in Maresi came to exist, and why. At first I wondered if this was the right order to present the Red Abbey Chronicles; today, followed by 50-100 years earlier. But I feel it is. You need to know the world that was made possible through the sufferings of the seven women in Naondel. It’s not just their own escape that you come to root for, but that of all women.

And because you have read Maresi, you know they will escape. It just takes several hundred pages of back-story of suffering before they do.

Maria Turtschaninoff, Naondel

Told by all seven women, we first meet the women’s tormentor Iskan as a young man, when he is almost charming. Actually, he is always charming to begin with. We meet the girl who becomes his first wife, followed by many other women, slaves and more willing concubines. Iskan wants to, needs to, lead and will stop at nothing.

Naondel shows us how strong and resourceful women are, if you didn’t already know. The story also shows us how sisterhood can develop between women who have little reason to be friends.

It is actually quite hard to describe how inspiring these women are. You want to look away in horror at what is done to them. After a slow start, once it was clear how this was going to develop, I just had to read on and on.

I have no idea what the next book will be about, but I know I want to read it.

(Translated by A A Prime)

Maresi

Maresi, The Red Abbey Chronicles, is one of the most feminist books I’ve read. It’s perhaps not surprising, as Maria Turtschaninoff – despite the name – is a Swedish speaking Finn. I don’t think you could easily publish a book in the UK with some of the content you find in Maresi.

Maria Turtschaninoff, Maresi

I’d heard about it before it appeared in English translation, and I’d had this irrational thought I wouldn’t read the Pushkin Press version, but go for the original instead. And then, of course, I didn’t.

The Red Abbey is a kind of nunnery, on an island, somewhere. Most of the character names and all the place names are made up ones, so it’s hard to place the abbey geographically, but I sort of imagine it in the Baltic. Contrary to so many set-ups in fiction where you have adults teaching younger ones, and it tends to be a cruel place with much punishment, as well as bad feeling between the ‘children.’

Not here. It seems to be an ideal place in what is a strange world, where the women teach the girls how to become like them; wise and strong. You hardly ever get that in books.

12-year-old Maresi is the narrator, and she tells of their island from when Jai turns up one day. Jai has escaped a bad past, and unfortunately she brings her past to the island, as they are invaded by a group of bad men. (This is all surprisingly anti-men, even though they acknowledge that some men are all right.)

You suspect the worst, but matters go in a different way from what you’d think, and the women’s strength grows and impresses.

In a way, this isn’t the kind of story I tend to go for, but once started I couldn’t leave it. Very interesting. And there are more to come.