Knutby – Jonas Bonnier

Norwegian title: Knutby

Good morning guys!

Uhm, how do you start a review where you feel that the book took you to a whole different reality when it actually just took you to the south of Sweden? I’m, I’m actually a little speechless to be honest but at the same time I’m very vexed about this book. How is that possible? The synopsis is from Goodreads and translated by me:

During the summer of 1997 the Forsman family moves to Knutby in Uppland, Sweden. They’re ready to begin their new lives in the Filadelfia-congregation lead by Eva Skoog. In the short seven years following their move, several people and families will be weaved together in a net of erotic power relations. Some with a tragic outcome. Jonas Bonnier has written a real life novel about the events in Knutby and about how its possible to create a prarallell reality based on faith, hope, and love, which in the end serves entirely different purposes.

Knutby is in many ways insane. The story is insane, the people are insane, the writing is insane, and on and on it goes. I must say that I’m a firm believer in that people have a right to believe. If people chose to believe in gods, plants or flying cookie monsters that’s up to them, but, and there is two but’s here for me: 1. Don’t try and make me believe by shoveling your beliefs down my throat. 2. Try to at least keep it within this atmosphere of sane. This includes Thor, Odin, Marsians, etc. Knutby doesn’t fulfill any of these but’s, hence I suppose my immense frustration. And do you know what the worst thing is? This shit is based on real life events…….

Where do I even start? Maybe I should just stop here to keep myself from throwing a long frustration rant that you wouldn’t want to read? But why do I read and review books then? Ok, let’s try. Storywise and writingwise Knutby seems somewhat half finished. The chapters are short, which is nice, but several times during the book they seem to be cut short just when it starts to get exciting. Maybe that’s because that’s how the story went? Or maybe he just thought it was the most suitable when writing the story? I suppose there is a reason for presenting the chapters the way they are but it wasn’t quite to my fancy. The writing isn’t bad, however, some sections in the book seems to have been scribbled down whilst the story is happening and then left to its own demises. Very peculiar. However, I do enjoy that Bonnier is very good at portraying the characters without spending too many adverbs on them. Instead he lets their action speak and the reader can picture the characters themselves. I think this makes the reader more connected to the story. I also enjoy how he paints the picture of this little religious group and how they’re all connected. In many ways it seems healthy and safe but it’s nothing of the sort in this case.

Our characters are multiple and I was quite disgusted by several. Our main character, Kristina, is married to one of Knutby’ s new preachers, Sindre. They have two children and their lives seems rather normal. Kristina seems like a good mother, although she’s a bit lonely and works for free for the church. I liked Kristina and her personality. She’s obviously rather smart and knows how to think for herself. This seems to become a problem later on for other people in her congregation. This is where I start to really disagree with this book. Ever heard of free will in this Knutby congregation? Then we have Sindre who is one psycho man. He seems to think that he can sleep his way around town and get away with it. What makes this even worse is that people seem to know about these sexual relationships that are flying around within the congregation and nobody speaks up against them! These people are married with kids for crying out loud!! Then, finally, we have Eva. Our queen bee, literally. This woman makes me, I don’t think I even have words for it. Manipulative bitch isn’t strong enough. Of course we could launch the discussion of manipulation and weak people but in this book I feel like those who gets involved with Eva knows what they’re doing. I’ll just leave her there.

Knutby is the sort of book where I’m left with a feeling that I didn’t regret reading it because it provoked so many feelings. Yet, I don’t quite understand why I’ve read it. I think it’s more out of fascination for this absolute madness that I continued to read. When you’ve started you sort of have to finish because you want to try to understand the characters and their thoughts. Why are they doing this when their actions is so obviously wrong? Since this book is based on real life events I suppose their actions made somewhat sense to them. I can’t quite understand how but I know I’m not the only one at that so I’m gonna leave it at that we can’t understand everything.

Knutby is in many aspects a fascination book. However, it didn’t quite make the cut for me, neither storywise nor writingwise. The characters are interesting and their story is definitley out of the ordinary. If you’re familiar with the Knutby case from the media I don’t think this book will bring you anything new. If you’re not familiar with the story, like I was, I believe it will bring you more in terms of a reading experience.

Published: 2019

Genre: Contemporary novel

Theme: Religion, family, relationships

– The Book Reader

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