Claudia
Coteau Books / 28 October 2009

Claudia by Britt Holmström Published by Coteau Books Review by Sandy Bonny $21.00 ISBN-13 987-1-55050-395-1 Britt Holmström’s fourth novel Claudia moves along the fine boundaries of appearance and private truth. An upper middle-class widow living in Regina, Claudia Hewitt has framed her life perfectly. Childhood poverty in Sweden with her Latvian refugee mother is far behind her, as are the embarrassments of her ‘too big’ nose and adolescent chubbiness. Her grown children’s mishaps are glossed by white lies, and Claudia has carefully protected her family and aging mother from the fact that she has witnessed three brutal murders – first as a teenager in Sweden, later while backpacking in Spain, and finally from the window of her beloved husband’s study in Regina. Does bearing witness make her complicit in these tragedies? Does her silence? And what secrets, out of love or fear of judgment, have Claudia’s mother and children kept from her? Claudia is written in a world where violence is inevitable, where female sexuality can corrupt and degrade as well as empower, and where love can nourish healing. Moving backward and forward in time, and between Winnipeg, Regina, Sweden, Spain, and Latvia, ‘Claudia’ covers a lot of ground. Details…