Pauliina Rauhala: Heavensong

A story about moderate men, moderate women, love and religion.

Author: Pauliina Rauhala
Finnish original: Taivaslaulu
Publisher: Gummerus, 2013
Number of pages: 284 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, English sample, English synopsis, French sample, German sample, Lithuanian sample, Danish edition
Rights sold: Denmark, Jensen & Dalgaard; Hungary, Luther; Latvia, SIA

Vilja and Aleksi have always dreamed of a big, happy family, with many little feet stomping around the house.

Nine years and four children later, Vilja is torn between the belief system she has based her entire life on and a nearly paralyzing exhaustion. She fears the inevitable moment when she will  get pregnant again.

And then, the moment arrives: Vilja and Aleksi are once again sitting in a maternity ward, hand-in-hand, and the collapse is imminent.

Heavensong provides a rare perspective of both parents of a young family facing the silenced hardships of parenthood. The story encourages to reflect on the myths and expectations surrounding child-rearing and motherhood, as well bodily autonomy, in a serene, non-polarizing manner. It raises questions as to whom the ultimate responsibility within a family falls and how can one balance between the ideal imposed by a community and one’s own fragile reality. Above all, it is a love story of two people who are determined to see the light.

Heavensong is a long-standing best-seller of contemporary Finnish literature. The novel was awarded Gummerus’ Kaarle Prize and chosen by literature bloggers as the best book of Finnish fiction in 2013. With over 80,000 sold copies so far, the novel holds the distinction of being the publisher’s best-selling debut of all time.

“Rauhala’s novel is polyphonic.  […] It is not just a griping story about a break-down of a mother tired out by the religious community’s demands but also a description of her husband’s confusion, the challenging of the rules and his radical personal choice in the end.  […] Vilja and Aleksi are not narrowed to black and white stereotypes. Vilja’s furious revolt is described in a heart-breaking manner, and Aleksi is first and foremost a searcher.  […] Rauhala is especially skillful in creating atmosphere and feeling.”
– Savon Sanomat newspaper

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About the author:
Pauliina Rauhala