The summer of 1932 has just begun when twenty-four year-old Karin falls hopelessly in love with a young writer named Olof. But there is one problem: Karin is married to Sven, a blustering high-profile author with a cruel streak. Will she be able to leave her husband and start a new life with her newfound love?
Eighty-six years and two generations later, Alex Schulman, author and father of three, wonders why he carries such a deep rage inside of him; a rage that puts fear in the eyes of his children and creates a gulf between himself and his wife. During a session with his therapist, Alex realizes his anger can be traced back to a single person: his grandfather Sven. Terrified of becoming like his grandfather, and with the hope of ending the lineage of rage that appears like a family curse, Alex goes looking for answers. In doing so, he uncovers the story of two star-crossed lovers and the history they made.
1932. Karin is growing increasingly estranged from her husband Sven Stolpe, who is an elevated writer and a prominent cultural figure with respect and influence. Sven is deeply religious and when he learns that Karin aborted another man’s child, conceived prior to their meeting, he grows livid. What is this moral failure? Soon Sven can no longer control the resentment he feels toward Karin and she finds herself forced to live with a violent tyrant whom she grows to fear. When she meets the young and exuberant Olof, Karin loses herself in a dream of what mutual love and respect could hold – little knowing that her life is on the line.
In his search in the present, Alex learns about the passionate affair his grandmother Karin had with Olof Lagercrantz – who would later become one of the most famous writers of his generation. Their secret love story takes Alex back to a pivotal moment in his childhood: in the winter of 1988, during an innocent game at his grandparents’ house, he uncovered a pile of letters that sent shockwaves through the household. Did the love between Karin and Olof not end in 1932 as Sven had long believed? And what really happened in the horrible car accident that nearly cost Karin and Sven their lives?
Throbbing with raw emotion, Burn All My Letters is a novel about what could have been – but also about life as it came to pass. Through three separate timelines woven together with singular sophistication, Alex Schulman traces a rage inherited through generations while exposing the violent potential of male power. By uncovering a secret affair, Schulman discovers the reason behind a public feud spanning decades between two literary greats, while also laying bare the fundamental power – and limitation – of love.
Impossible to put down and vividly engaging at every unexpected turn, this is at once a gripping love story and an intricate literary thriller. Unanimously lauded and selling an astounding 100 000 copies in a matter of months, Burn All My Letters stands out as one of the foremost break-out novels in recent years.
“A captivating read.”
“An incredibly fine novel.”
SVT Babel (SE)
“It is beautiful, sad, and above all it feels immensely true.”
Sveriges Radio Kulturnytt i P4 (SE)