- Book: The Trio
- Location: Stockholm
- Author: Johanna Hedman, Kira Josefsson (translator)
Friendship to lovers to friendship – and then distance. The transition and ultimate fall-out of lives lived. A tale of three parts.
The novel opens as Frances seeks out Hugo in New York, slightly in the future. She needs to find out more about her father, August, what he was like back in the day, and Hugo – now estranged from his former friendship group – is the person to ask. Frances’ mother is Thora, part of the trio of the eponymous title, she is a cool-to-cold player in the story, who eventually marries August, the third member of the group. They were all from vastly different backgrounds and hung out together in the past, over two summers in Stockholm, although it was not always an easy going set up.
They all met at her parents’ apartment in Östermalm. The novel is largely devoted to the burgeoning relationship between Hugo and Thora, their viewpoints are told as the chapters alternate, and August remains largely on the sidelines, although he is very much part of the scene.
It is a reworking of a story that is as old as the hills, and it is competently thought-through. Presentation is stolid and gets into its rhythm once the characters (and there are quite a few who pass through the pages) get embedded. This is the first time where I have had to write down how the characters are interconnected because for some reason I spent the first 75 pages or so being puzzled by the people who came and went and came again. I suspect this is a device of alienation, which reflects the nature of the burgeoning relationships, a little distant and unknowable, tantalising and annoying. Sliding doors moments…..
For me, ultimately, the characters didn’t have the depth to really engage me in their stories, although the writing itself is very good. If you have read Trio by William Boyd, I think you will perhaps be struck by the similar take and structure of the two novels, with Trio eclipsing The Trio in its on-point humour.
The locations are manifold but Stockholm remains centre stage. It gets a lot of description, it is quite evocative and a character in its own right, but like the people, it just didn’t leap off the page and engross and transport.