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Carolina Setterwall (1978) was born in Sala, Sweden. After studying Media and Communication in Uppsala, Stockholm, and London she has worked within the music and publishing industries as an editor and writer. Setterwall lives in Stockholm with her family.

Let’s Hope for the Best (2018), a gripping autobiographical novel about losing her partner and the father of her young son, was her break-out literary debut and has been published in twenty-five countries to warm critical acclaim.

Photo of Carolina Setterwall Photo by Linnea Jonasson Bernholm

Reviews

“Certainly the voice here sounds very much as one imagines Setterwall’s own would: sometimes flat-footed, sometimes resentful, but never less than baldly honest and fully alive.”
The Times Literary Supplement (UK)

“This intense read is no lite summer fare, but it’s sure to keep you captivated.”
Domino (US)

“Austere, quietly disturbing…a starkly unsentimental depiction of the difficulties of life after the death of a partner.”
Publishers Weekly (US)

“A moving and tender work of autofiction that depicts the obsessive interiority of grief.”
Kirkus (US)

“Certainly the voice here sounds very much as one imagines Setterwall’s own would: Sometimes flat- footed, sometimes resentful but never less than baldly honest and fully alive.”
TLS (UK)

“Brutally candid. The most compelling book I’ve read in years.”
The Times (UK)

“Every spare, controlled sentence has the ring of truth. Gripping.”
Daily Mail (UK)

“Quite simply one of the best bereavement memoirs I’ve read.”
Evening Standard (UK)

“Setterwall masterfully blends the small red flags of a relationship with compelling excuses […] It’s a portrayal of a flawed dynamic and a game of wilful cognitive dissonance played by so many parties in their love lives. It is sometimes painful seeing it depicted with so much detail, and often cuts close to the bone, but its greatest strength is the deftness and compassion of its execution. Then post-natal distress, maternal exhaustion and bereavement over loss of said partner enter the fray, and pack a massive emotional punch.”
The Quietus (UK)

“A magnificent reading experience. Raw, honest, and self-revealing. For those who love stories from real life.”
5/6 Magasinet Liv (DK)

Let’s Hope for The Best is a story about love. And it’s a reconciliation with death, but also with life and our expectations for it.”
Hendes Verden (DK)

“The book is a novel as much as it is an honest diary, and the naked self-examination is a moving read. Guilt, grief, and dizzying love are combined in a brave way.”
Eurowoman (DK)

“One of the best books I’ve ever read. […] You’re drawn into her raw grief, anger, guilt, bitterness, fear and loss – all of it, without any filter. And that is what makes the story so real and alive.”
Sidses Bogreol (DK)

“One of the things I love most about this book is how honest it is! […] The book is written as one long account directed to Carolina’s husband. It works really well, and I even dare say that the first-person narrative leaves a particularly strong impression on the reader. I can only recommend this book.”
Mellem-Linjerne, Blog (DK)

“Just as much as the book is about loss and shows what it means to have a strong network that takes care of you, the novel is, also, a self-portrait of a woman who has accustomed to controlling everything … A book that many will be able to identify with.”
Kristerligt Dagblad (DK)

“It’s the kind of book that you’ll never forget. It gets under your skin. It moves into the heart. The story is so vulnerable and direct that one cannot avoid caring for the people it is about, and to love them. […] I have never read a book that, so beautifully, puts into words how difficult it is to live without – but also to live with – the one you love. One of the best, most touching and most relevant books I’ve ever read.”
Randi Glensbo, Blog (DK)

“Honest and unvarnished autofiction … Carolina Setterwall writes about the many nuances of grief, but also about love, family life and expectations of life before and after the sudden death. The precise and almost photographic memories of the past are fine and nuanced … The love story is by no means romanticized, and the descriptions of the author’s grief process and thoughts, also the less pretty ones, makes the novel even better.”
Litteratursiden (DK)

“A vulnerable, honest and intense novel about loss and trying to move on. It’s poignant and well-written.”
Dansk Bibliotekscenter (DK)

“A brave and honest story that is very hard to let go of – even after you’ve finished reading it. A ‘must read’ for everyone – whether you have lost someone or not.”
Bech’s Books (DK)

“Setterwalls book is razor sharp and so brave that you can barely understand how she dares. […] It’s a book that gives you shivers as it rises beyond grief in the finest way.”
6/6, Femina (DK)

“An electrifying read. A book that forces itself upon you, impossible to resist and difficult to pause. Carolina Setterwall, a previous blogger, is a skilful writer who knows how to keep the reader’s attention. Direct, effective, skilled […] While time flows through the text in two parallell courses of events, up until and after the fatal moment, the readers are imprisoned in the writer’s consciousness. Beyond it, there is nothing. Only a you and a me exists, which is used throughout the entire novel. […] In the novel Carolina claims that she’s good at throwing out and clearing away. You can feel it. Away with everything that doesn’t drive the story forward. As a documentation of a time, a place, a fate, Let’s Hope for the Best is a memory capsule to preserve. And, what’s more, a perfect summer beach read.”
Maria Schottenius, Dagens Nyheter (SE)

“This book is breathtaking. The writer’s husband died when their baby was eight months old. It’s a book on grief, that is, which could have been endlessly boring, but this text depicts life before and life after – when you already know that the catastrophe is near. […] The way they met and why they decided to have a baby is astoundingly well told in and of itself. Immediate. Drastic. Great literature.”
Lasse Anrell, NWT (SE)

Let’s Hope for the Best is not a book that follows a well-known formula, where every trauma is followed by neatly presented therapeutic break-throughs. For better or worse, Setterwall’s story of grief is less balanced – and rings more true. (…) It fumbles in the dark, startlingly, and offers such an array of emotions that it causes vertigo. In the face of death – but also of life.”
Elin Ruuth, Norrbottens-Kuriren (SE)

“It is painful to read. What differentiates this book from so many other depictions of grief is that it does not shy away from complexity. It is difficult to live without someone, but it is also difficult to live with someone. (…) Her story is an ice-cold reminder that life, as we know it, can change in a heartbeat, and that everything we hold dear can be taken from us. Haunted by the curse of guilt, she realizes that grief has its own pace and that, because of it, she has become someone else.”
Oline Stig, Sydsvenskan (SE)

“When I finish the book, only this remains: Thank you.”
Expressen (SE)

Let’s Hope for the Best isn’t exactly the kind of grief book that holds things in. Setterwall is honest through and through, and avoids glorifying the deceased.”
Svenska Dagbladet (SE)

“Carolina Setterwall is admirable in her honesty.”
Ingalill Mosander, Go’Kväll (SE)

“A nuanced tale of the many faces of grief, and about a relationship that was not always easy. Carolina has the courage to write also about the ugliness that she is ashamed of.”
Femina (SE)

“Against the backdrop of a privileged and seemingly secure middle class life in the big city, the impossible happens. A woman wakes up one morning, but her husband doesn’t. He is dead. Now here she sits with a baby on her arm, not knowing what to make of life. The reader is invited to take part in a grieving process in two separate timelines, on the one hand a self-examining search for how they lived their lives, on the other hand a tale about how she gets through the period after his passing. The protagonist doesn’t spare herself for a moment. As the laconic comments and self-ironic musings spread across the pages she grows and becomes real and urgent. In Let’s Hope for the Best Carolina Setterwall has had the courage to portray vanity, guilt, and self-pity in exact words. It’s time for me to examine myself and the attitude I have towards those closest to me. What seems obvious now will be gone one day.”
BTJ (SE)

“A rich, honest, and poignant portrayal of the many dimensions of grief.”
Alba (SE)

Let’s Hope for the Best is a heart-breaking debut that is easy to read and difficult to resist. An autobiographical grief novel in which Carolina Setterwall, with intense presence, tells the story of her life before and after Aksel. How do you survive as a new mother with an eight month-old baby when your loved one suddenly dies? Setterwall writes with nuance. She is raw, unadorned and honest, never swerving into the cloying or sentimental.”
M-Magasin (SE)

“She always resides in the present tense, even though that present shifts violently under a short period of time. The authenticity is rare in strength, and is created with a simple, functional, and efficient style.”
Aftonbladet (SE)

“I like this book because, despite the tragic subject matter, it never resorts to painting pretty pictures. Instead it shows, with carefully calibrated austerity, how regular people – not angels – continue to struggle. They’re stuck in the well worn patterns of youth, the welfare state, and women’s liberation.”
UNT (SE)

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Photo by Linnea Jonasson Bernholm Photo by Linnea Jonasson Bernholm
Photo by Linnea Jonasson Bernholm Photo by Linnea Jonasson Bernholm
Photo by Linnea Jonasson Bernholm Photo by Linnea Jonasson Bernholm
Photo by Linnea Jonasson Bernholm Photo by Linnea Jonasson Bernholm
Photo of Carolina Setterwall Photo by Linnea Jonasson Bernholm Photo by Linnea Jonasson Bernholm

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