Some novellas leave you wanting whilst others such as the Guest Cat and Agatha are powerful works that impact on your soul.
Agatha by Anne Cathrine Bomann loses nothing in the translation. Written in the first person it tells the final days to retirement of a psychiatrist starting with 800 conversations to go. He pays scant attention to what his patients say, often drawing bird charicatures instead of taking notes. Agatha is a new patient he doesn’t want to take on but forced to he believes that he can help her. Through his attempts to make her better, he faces his own life. It is a tale of loneliness, mortality, transformation and the difficulties of making connections.
His secretary had worked for him for thirty years yet they had no relationship outside that. ” Before I accompanied Madam Almeida into my office, I shot my secretary a glance. She was sitting very quietly at an uncluttered desk, staring down at its surface. The anglepoise lamp cast her stony shadow onto the wall behind her, and she looked so dejected that for a moment I considered whether I ought to say something. But what? Instead I drew the door shut behind me and turned to my patient.”
In only 147 pages no word is superfluous and the writing is beautiful. He reflects “How often had I listened to my patients complaining and been glad their lives weren’t mine? How often had I turned up my nose at their routines or secretly jeered at their foolish concerns? It occurred to me that I’d been imagining my proper life, my reward for all the grind, was waiting for me when I retired. Yet, as I sat there, I couldn’t for the life of me work out what that existence would contain that was worth looking forward to. Surely the only things I could reliably expect were fear and loneliness? How pathetic. I’m just like them…”
Would I recommend this book: Without any hesitation yes. These are characters that are believable inside a beautifully told story of the inner depths of humaness.