"I never thought a book about anxious Swedish intellectuals engaged in a philosophical back and forth would grip me like an airport read, but here we are. Jenni recommended this book as 'perfect, just read it' and she was right. From the very first page I was deep in the headspace of our protagonist, Esther, a woman willing to destroy her life for a man who barely acknowledges her.Read more...
"I never thought a book about anxious Swedish intellectuals engaged in a philosophical back and forth would grip me like an airport read, but here we are. Jenni recommended this book as 'perfect, just read it' and she was right. From the very first page I was deep in the headspace of our protagonist, Esther, a woman willing to destroy her life for a man who barely acknowledges her. This slim volume explores the power dynamic cultural capital and fame bring to a relationship, and the lengths we're willing to go to in order to imagine we're getting what we want. Jenni said: 'I want to give this to every person I know who is in a one sided relationship. This will snap them right out of it.'" --Lena Dunham
Ester Nilsson is a sensible person in a sensible relationship. Until the day she is asked to give a lecture on famous artist Hugo Rask. The man himself is in the audience, intrigued and clearly delighted by her fascination with him. When the two meet afterward, she is spellbound.
Ester s life is then intrinsically linked to this meeting and the chain of events that unfolds.She leaves her boyfriend and throws herself into an imaginary relationship with Hugo. She falls deeply in love, and he consumes her thoughts. Indeed, in her own mind she ssure that she and Hugo are a couple.
Slowly and painfully Ester comes to realize that her perception of the relationship is different from his. She s a woman who prides herself on having a rational and analytical mind, but in the face of her overpowering feelings for Hugo, she is too clever and too honest for her own good. Bitingly funny and darkly fascinating, Willful Disregard is a story about total and desperate devotion, and how willingly we betray ourselves in the pursuit of love.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-12-21
- Reviewer: Staff
In this slender novel of psychological and romantic obsession, winner of Swedens August Prize, Ester Nilsson is a Swedish poet of eight slim volumes who lives in Stockholm with her lover of seven years, Per. A woman who inhabits a seriously self-regulated world, Ester is happy to be invited to give a lecture on Hugo Rask, an artist. At the event, for which he is in attendance, Ester finds herself instantly taken with Hugo. Next, she is asked to write an article about the artist, which brings her further into his orbit and causes her breakup with Per. She and Hugo begin spending time together and having sex on a few separate occasions. Throughout it all, Hugo retains his emotional distance from Ester, who becomes more and more obsessed with him. In fact, the more indifferently he treats her, the more Ester convinces herself that she is totally in love with him. Over the course of 15 months, we see Ester repeatedly try to reach out to a distant Hugo. He, in turn, thoughtlessly responds to her just enough to give her the hope that one day her love for him will be returned. Anderssons stainless steel prose and forensic dissection of Esters helplessness almost render her story dramatically pointlessand it will be enjoyable only to the reader who relishes spending time with a character embroiled in such unending masochistic misery. (Feb.)