To open yourself to love is to open yourself to the potential of loss.
Ebba Lindqvist used to be Sweden’s foremost relationship guru with her own talk show and numerous bestselling books to her name. But after a very public divorce she has hit rock bottom because let’s face it – who wants romantic advice from a sad divorcée? She is barely scraping by, paying the bills by constructing crossword puzzles and turning her old catch phrases onto her own dismal situation with hilarious irony. When she is asked to write a puff piece about long-lasting marriages she accepts the job reluctantly. Beggars can’t be choosers after all. She travels to a quaint fishing village in order to interview a woman who was apparently happily married to the same man for sixty years.
Veronika Mörk is seventy-nine years old and lives in a retirement home, but she is no meek elderly lady. She is salty and elegant and Ebba is immediately drawn to her. Yet Ebba’s encounter with Veronika is not the straightforward interview she had expected. Veronika reminisces about a great love – but it is not her deceased husband she is talking about.
Flash back to the summer of 1955. Veronika is seventeen years old and working at her mother’s inn in the picturesque summer town of Båstad. The role of women in society is slowly changing, but the choices for a young working class girl are still limited. Veronika wants more from life than to attend housekeeping school, and most of all she yearns for love and to find an outlet for the shameful desire bubbling inside her. While her cousin Francie is a bold Marilyn Monroe look-alike, Veronica is a wallflower. And she is hiding a darkness that stems from a family tragedy no one will speak about. One day, a young art student named Bo comes to stay at the inn and with the crinkle of his leather jacket, Veronika’s world is turned upside down.
Back in the present, Ebba finds herself on a mission. She may not be able to salvage her own catastrophic love life, but perhaps she can bring some joy back into Veronika’s? Ebba is determined to understand what happened back in 1955. Why did the two lovers not end up together after all? And what if Bo is still alive? What begins as a fumbling interview grows into a fond friendship between two unlikely compatriots in the tricky game of love that will change the course of both their lives.
Wild Honey is an irresistible relationship novel that spans two centuries and balances perfectly between salt and sugar. With loveable characters and a disarming sense of humor, Sara Paborn draws the reader into the throws of youthful infatuation while also asking serious questions about what it means to be a woman then and now. In the end, we all yearn to surrender to the greatest thing of all: love.
“This is entertainment with intelligence and bite. […] Paborn is phenomenal at creating scenes that perfectly portray things falling into place. Ebba and Veronica’s stories are in dialogue over the decades: about the love that caught fire but never had the oxygen to burn bright, and the love that flared and quickly burned out. Wild Honey is beautiful, perfectly composed and easy to digest like a luxurious literary truffle.”
“Good Lord, give me a time machine and send me to Sara Paborn’s 1955! […] The author is able to make her sleepy summer days appear divine. Not even the strange swarm of bees that has moved into the inn and terrorizes the summer guests will scare us off – also in apparently dark moments it is impossible not to cozy up and smile through all of Veronika’s chapters.”
Dagens Nyheter (SE)
“Wild Honey is a perfect title for a thought-provoking feel good novel with a bite, and the humorist Sara Paborn delivers cozy reading for those looking for romance but allergic to cheesiness. Everything begins when the lovable protagonist Ebba – a journalist and crossword-creator plagued by tinnitus – talks her way into an interview with a 80 year-old widow named Veronika on the subject ‘how to make love last a lifetime.’ But was her marriage really all that happy? Who is the mysterious artist who keeps showing up in their conversation? And what really happened that hot summer in the 1950s? Paborn writes beautifully about inter-generational friendship and past meets present in the search for a love that never eroded.”
“A well-written page-turner in the Anglo-Saxon tradition that captures something utterly essential to mankind as well as the simultaneously forgiving and cruel passage of time.”
Svenska Dagbladet (SE)
“A masterful storyteller and an entertainment author of the highest order. In Sara Paborn’s stories there is both seriousness, depth, ingenuity and a good splash of humor – and Wild Honey is no exception. Here we see a sharp eye for our contemporary moment but also great warmth in the way in which relationships between people are depicted.”
Borås Tidning (SE)
“Paborn combines warmth and seriousness, but there is also a level of suspense that makes the reader want to turn the page compulsively: what really happened between Veronika and Bo Bix? And will Ebba find the mysterious Bo Bix?”
“Sara Paborn is an ace at writing dialog and the strength of Wild Honey is her ability to, through dialogue, create presence and pain in the past as well as in the present. […] Wild Honey is very cinematic; maybe it’s the dynamic between the past and present that makes it so. Middle age versus old age, infatuation versus love – all fused with dreams and longing. With Wild Honey, Sara Paborn has written a novel – at once sharp and sweet – that offers a sense of recognition, in different ways.”
Norrländska Socialdemokraten (SE)
“Sara Paborn is the best kind of storyteller who masters both earnestness, ingenuity, and warmth. Her latest novel Wild Honey is no exception.”
Blekinge Läns Tidning (SE)
“Sara Paborn writes beautifully about the meandering ways of love, and she writes with great seriousness – but also with a great humor. Indeed, she writes like a veritable relationship expert. Read and cozy up – with a serious risk of tears at the end.”
“I am engaged by the inter-generational relationship between these two women, their cautious exchange of emotions, of experiences relating to love and life.”
“The greatest pleasure of reading this book is Paborn’s artful depiction of the traditional inn, sculptures in small towns, a welfare state in a lost time and, not least, love.”
“Sara Paborn’s dramatic sense of humor works well when applied to the wear-and-tear culture of contemporary relationships.”
“This is a wonderful and entertaining love story with nimble depictions of characters, perceptive dialogue, and a real sense of milieu. Who doesn’t yearn for the idyllic 1950’s inn – even if it’s just a fairytale?”
Hela Gotland (SE)
“Wild Honey: Bittersweet about lost love and life’s rare highlights. It is the summer of 1955 at an inn by the sea in Båstad that Veronika meets and loses the great love of her life. More than sixty years later, she is interviewed by the newly divorced relationship coach Ebba, and a warm friendship begins to grow. The lives of two women are woven together in this delightful drama about love and relationships. It is magical!”
Nomination for Book of the Year 2020 (SE)