Niina Miettinen: Wild Rosemary

Three siblings, three different stories, and three lives changed by the arrival of a woman.

Author: Niina Miettinen
Finnish original: Suopursu
Publisher: Teos, 2019
Number of pages: 264 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, English sample, English synopsis

Olga leaves her job and her lover. She heads to a small town and takes a temporary job in the local funeral home. There she meets Hannu, an artist who tries to capture the mating displays of the black grouse in his sketches – he is enchanted by the instinctive mating and nesting of the birds.

Hannu’s sister Anja has been taking care of the home farm, sharing the work with their condescending brother Pietari. When their mother dies, Anja loses her purpose in life.

Then Olga breezes in through an old spruce tree hedge. She breaks all the accustomed rules, attracting everyone’s attention. Within Anja flutters an uncontrollable joy.

Set in the bog and fell landscapes of northern Karelia, Wild Rosemary vividly charts the different manifestations of passion and love, the seeping of colour into the grey. Wild Rosemary opens new dimensions in people, both dramatically and subtly. Miettinen’s prose is characterised by an enchanting sensuousness; she gives a voice to the quite and sees through the harsh talk.

Wild Rosemary is Niina Miettinen’s second novel. Her first, Israel Girl (2013), was shortlisted as one of the year’s best first novels.

“This linguistically inventive first novel grows from the practice of religion to a description of a broken and forced motherhood and a portrait of a particular family. (…) Miettinen writes exuberantly with the expressiveness of the north Karelian dialect and its characteristic phraseology, which gives the work space and humour.”
Kaleva newspaper on Israel Girl

Also available:
Israel Girl (2013)

About the author:
Niina Miettinen