The Woman Who Went Overboard – Florence Wetzel

Hi book friends!

What have you read this weekend? I’ve just finished another buddy read. This time I read with @bookstrider and it was quite fun! We’ve read books together before and it’s so nice to have a person to discuss with as the book progresses. The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads:

A psychological thriller about a Swedish-American woman who becomes obsessed by a Norwegian widower during a cruise along the coast of Norway.

Agnes Andersson is an awkward middle-aged woman who desperately wants a husband. And what better place to find one than on a cruise along the coast of Norway? During the voyage Agnes meets her ideal man, a handsome Norwegian widower named Einar. The only problem is that Einar prefers Pamela—Agnes’ new best friend.

When Pamela’s body washes ashore almost a year later, her daughter visits Agnes to ask questions about the cruise. Their conversation becomes a cat-and-mouse game where Agnes bends the facts to avoid revealing the truth about Pamela’s disappearance and death.

The Woman Who Went Overboard is a different kind of psychological thriller than what I’ve read before. It is written with an easy language and it makes the pages flow by and the story is gripping in a somewhat unexplainable way. You know the feeling when you know that something is going to happen and you just have to keep reading in order to figure it out? That’s the sort of feeling you’re left with when you read Wetzel’s book. The perspective alters between the cruise and present time when Pamela’s daughter Wendy is trying to figure out what happened to her mother the previous year on the cruise.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with such distubing and good characters in my life! I mean these characters are just a whole new world of strange, and the fascinating thing is that they make the regular normal seem strange. This is a psychological thriller and whilst I really enjoyed the book I felt that something was missing. It’s no secret that I can’t solve a bookmystery to save my life but this time I actually had to ask the author to explain it to me. This is the reason for why I experienced this book as a different kind of psychological thriller. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m just going to leave it at that don’t expect to understand this book right away. I pondered about it for a while, both whilst reading and when I was finished, but I couldn’t figure it out. When I asked Wetzel I saw the simplicity but also the cleverness in the plot, but I wish I had understood it by myself.

I have to say that Wetzel has a true talent for writing dialougs! At several occasions during the book I felt that I was actually present at the dialoug myself and was watching it moving back and fourth. Our main female character is Agnes. She’s alternative to say the least. Agnes is an awkward middel-aged lady. You don’t need to read this book for a very long time before you realize that something is SERIOUSLY amiss. While you spend time wondering about Agnes’ strange behavior pattern you’re introduced to Pamela which quickly becomes Agnes’ ‘cruise bestie’. Pamela seems superficial to me but also she seems to be a genuinley nice person who just doesn’t know how to handle people who acts outside her normal behaviour pattern. She’s a part of the generation who lives their life through Facebook and can’t help but share every minute of their life on there. This part of Pamela’s personality is definitley what pulls Agnes towards Pamela but at the same time disgusts her. Finally we have Einar, who Agnes falls head over heels in love with, Sandy, who to me is the horror picture of Americans (luckily I know enough un-Sandy-like Americans so I know she’s not the entire stereotype), and then there is Maj and Per who is married and from Stockholm, Sweden. These characters are all very different, and its quite interesting to see them through Agnes’ eyes and mind.

This book has what I think is a rather American perspective on Norway, Norwegians, and Scandinavia. I think this is rather fun! Wetzel is orginally American but currently resides in Sweden and she also speaks Swedish so the American view of the book makes sense but it also presents certain aspects of us Scandinavians which are rather true. Example: the Norwegian brown cheese (goat cheese with a brownish color and texture like sticky cream cheese). This cheese is rather famous for everyone who has encountered Norway or its culture but it was still quite fun to read about it in this way. The book also talks quite a lot about ‘fika’ which is a Swedish tradition that includes a coffee break and some pastery. This I didn’t know so I really enjoyed learning something new about my sweet neighbours to the west! Since this book takes place on a cruiseship which travels the length of the Norwegian coast we’re also presented with a lot of known Norwegian cities and some of their history. Reading this book made me really want to go on a cruise up the coast and explore my own country! I love the research Wetzel has done in order to put this book together and it really shows that there’s a lot of time invested in this research!

The Woman Who Went Overboard is not your standard psychological thriller. I’d say its a thriller for the more advanced reader within this genre which isn’t me, yet. I still enjoyed it and think that it had a good flow, great language, and the story really shows the amount of research Wetzel has put into this book! If you’re up for a change in your psychological thriller reading habit, and some seriously disturbing behaviour (!), then I strongly suggest that you pick this one up!

Published: 2020

Genre: Psychological thriller

Theme: Cruise, travel, friends, behaviour

– The Book Reader

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