Selja Ahava: The Woman Who Loved Insects

A beautiful and passionate story carries the reader from the days of the witch trials to present-day Berlin.

Author: Selja Ahava
Finnish original: Nainen joka rakasti hyönteisiä
Publisher: Gummerus, 2020
Genre: literary fiction
Number of pages: 331 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, English sample
, English synopsis
Rights sold: Bulgaria, Colibri; Denmark, Jensen & Dalgaard; France, Bleu et Jaune; Hungary, Polar; Italy, Elliot Edizioni; Poland, Relacja; Turkey, Timas

Maria, born in the age of witch trials, has been fascinated by insects since childhood. She begins to draw the metamorphic life cycles of them, as did her historical model, the German naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717).

With the passage of time from one age to another the world changes, and religion finds a competitor in science. The novel shows a woman breaking out of her narrow role, gaining a voice and authorship, together with the right to ponder the mystery of the origin of life. Just as insects undergo a transformation, so over time Maria changes, going on to live for 370 years.

The Woman Who Loved Insects has much to say about the relation between humans and nature. Above all, however, it is the story of a woman following her own path and her own passions, despite the obstacles set in her way by the era.

The Woman Who Loved Insects is like a Japanese woodcut – gentle, exotic and slowly unfolding. It is enigmatic, and as such very, very fascinating.
Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

Also available:
Before My Husband Disappears (2017)
Things That Fall from the Sky (2015)
The Day the Whale Swam through London (2010)

About the author:
Selja Ahava