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An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good
2020/11/23 12:33:25瀏覽284|回應0|推薦3

Writer:

Helene Tursten (born in Gothenburg on February 17, 1954) is a Swedish writer of crime fiction. The main character in her stories is Detective Inspector Irene Huss. Before becoming an author, Tursten worked as a nurse and then a dentist, but was forced to leave due to illness. During her illness she worked as a translator of medical articles.(r.2)

Story:

Don’t mess with Maud. If you rankle her, you’re likely to end up dead. That’s what happens to several of the unsuspecting characters in the quirky quintet of tales in Helene Tursten’s linked collection of short stories, An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good.

Maud is an 88-year-old retired teacher of French and English who lives alone in an apartment in Gothenburg, Sweden. And that’s where her problems start.

Maud’s living arrangements are “rather unusual.” After her father died when she was 18, the apartment was sold, but an agreement was made through an attorney that she, her mentally ill sister, Charlotte, and their mother could continue to live in it rent-free “for as long as any member of the family wishe[d] to reside” there. After her mother and sister died, Maud was intent on holding onto the apartment for dear life. Her own.

In the first jaw-dropping, head-spinning story, “An Elderly Lady Has Accommodation Problems,” Maud suspects another tenant in the building, Jasmin Schimmerhof, of having ulterior motives for her sudden kindness. When Maud returns from one of her many trips abroad, Jasmin, an artist, rings Maud’s doorbell and arrives bearing gifts, a “really expensive Champagne de Pompadour” and “Russian caviar [that] was also the real deal.”

Maud instantly realizes that she has made three mistakes: answering the bell, letting Jasmin in, and allowing her to float through the flat as though she owned it. A few days later, Jasmin brings pastries and coffee, bounds into the kitchen, and makes herself at home. That’s when Maud’s ire rises. She decides that she has a problem that needs a solution.

Jasmin’s apartment on the ground floor has a glassed-in terrace which also serves as her art studio. When Maud visits to try to understand Jasmin’s motive for befriending her, she discovers collages of “pressed photographs, scraps of fabric, sheet music, tampons (Maud couldn’t quite see whether or not they were used), fragments of bone and all kinds of unidentifiable trash.”

There is another, more significant series of large objects with the titles PHALLUS I, PHALLUS II, PHALLUS III, “presumably ad infinitum.” These represent Jasmin’s despising of “sovereignty and the patriarchy.”

Maud files her observations away and begins to plan a solution to what she considers an “intrusion into her calm, peaceful world.” She plays the “old lady who was slightly confused” card, pretending to be hard of hearing and to have mobility issues, until her murderous machinations result in the first “no good” of the collection.

One of the threads that ties the narratives together is the backstories author Tursten creates for Maud. She loves to travel and has been “virtually all over the world.” So it is not unusual when, in the second story, “An Elderly Lady on Her Travels,” she finds reason to continue her penchant for murder.

After Maud discovers that a former fiancé is about to marry, she seeks out him and his betrothed at the spa where they are to tie the knot. It’s a destination wedding for the now-70-year-old Gustaf Adelsiöö and his porn-star intended, Zazza Henrix, who turns out to have been one of Maud’s students. As often happens when Maud is around, a creative killing ensues.

By the time “An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace at Christmastime,” the reader has become very familiar with Maud’s motives. The reader is also well-informed about the bitterness that haunts her life because of the necessity to take care of her sister. Until she doesn’t anymore.

Charlotte dies in a suspicious fall down “the long, steep stone staircase” in the apartment building, a staircase that features in Maud’s next problem and solution — the “famous attorney and his wife” who live directly above her and are very noisy. She has to find a way to end the “Thump-thump-thud” disturbing her solitude. She justifies the ends (and the means) by believing that, this time, she is also solving someone else’s problems.

The fourth narrative, “The Antique Dealer’s Death,” is a way to segue into the closing story, “An Elderly Lady Is Faced with a Difficult Dilemma.” It is also the only story not told from Maud’s point of view. This one is from the perspective of another resident of the building, a journalist working on a novel. It backtracks to much of the expository information that the reader already knows about the circumstances of Maud’s life.

When the titular antique dealer winds up dead in Maud’s father’s “gentleman’s room,” a “time capsule [of] thick rugs, four generous brown leather easy chairs” and the lingering odor of smoking, Detective Inspectors Irene Nuss and Embla Nystrom (from other Tursten novels) are called in to solve what resembles a locked-room mystery.

The solution comes in the final story in the collection. Here, back to Maud’s perspective, Tursten outlines the very carefully constructed crime. Though the investigative team eventually shelves the case, it is quite clear to the reader how the elderly lady restored her peace and quiet.

The five delightfully daffy stories in An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good provide a succinct treatise on how to get away with murder. This is a terrific little dollop of crime. Just beware of the little old lady who lives upstairs.(r.1)

 

Highlights vs self- reflection:

1.p.38:She ended up standing directly beneath the whell, gazing upwards. Perfect! Maud jerked the rope as hard as she could, and the shackle released it immediately. With a deafening crash, Phallus, Hanging landed right on top of Jasmin. She didn’t even have time to make a sound.

From her description, it’s not a killing murder of accidence, but a skillful drawing of coincidence. It shows that aging knows the way to deal with uphill struggles.

2.p.50:If she found somewhere she liked, she could stay there for as long as she wished. It was quite lonely traveling that way, but it didn’t bother her; it was the way she wanted it. No pointless chatter and no complaining. She make her own decisions.

Aging could be dull and borried, from another point of view, it could be the best time to be our own boss.

3.p.128:She would soon be eighty-nine, and she had no heirs; when she was not longer around, everything would go to the state.

Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. Nothing left, except love. For Maud, seems nothing left.

4.p.131:She could no longer cope with dragging her suitcases around and using public transportation in the suffocating heat.

Aging need to cope with health and setting. It’s a hard time to face.

p.170:This time Tommy couldn’t help jaughing out loud. “Seriously” An eighty-nine –year-old who’s nealy deaf and suffering from early sgated of dementia? You’re suggesting she killed a man who was half her age and twice her size? Then she climbed out of the window and down the scaffolding to the sidewalk?I don’t think so . She uses a wheeled walker, for God’s sake.”

God is taken away everything from aging, but only her wisdom remain. It will bring miracle(or terror)

5.

Golden Sentence:

1.p.52:It’s never too late for love.

2.p.83:Pointing an accusing finger at Maud.

3.p.137: he was surrounded by an unpleasant miasma of mens fragrance and sweat

4.p.136: that little goblet had aroused his greed

5.p.140: Maud felt a surge of iced-cold fury. That revolting man was planning to swindle her.

Conclusion:

1.It was most horrible if you are afraid of nothing

2. Subconscious mind lead our action. Be aware of what you think is positive. Or it will bring the chaos.

3.Superconscious could be the better guide to our mind.

4. A part of the brain involved in fear, aggression and social interactions — is implicated in crime. Change brain, change behavior.(r.3)

5.If the aging could be the disparity terminator, there would be no dispising.

6.Actions that may help tackle ageism include:(r.9)

  • undertaking communication campaigns to increase knowledge about and understanding of ageing among the media, general public, policy-makers, employers and service providers;
  • legislating against age-based discrimination; and
  • ensuring that a balanced view of ageing is presented in the media.

7.Helene Tursten was a nurse and a dentist before she turned to writing. Maud’s age was a perfect disguise for a criminal , even a murder.(p.172)

8. Maud is the aging terminator who evacuates all the desperation, but in the reality, they are on the cliff, pushing down by the time.

Questions by Clive:

(1)Summary of the book:

Maud is an 88-year-old retired teacher of French and English who lives alone in an apartment in Gothenburg, Sweden. And that’s where her problems start.  Maud’s living arrangements are “rather unusual.” After her father died when she was 18, the apartment was sold, but an agreement was made through an attorney that she, her mentally ill sister, Charlotte, and their mother could continue to live in it rent-free “for as long as any member of the family wishe[d] to reside” there. After her mother and sister died, Maud was intent on holding onto the apartment for dear life….her own life that is.

In the first jaw-dropping, head-spinning story, “An Elderly Lady Has Accommodation Problems,” Maud suspects another tenant in the building, Jasmin Schimmerhof, of having ulterior motives for her sudden kindness. When Maud returns from one of her many trips abroad, Jasmin, an artist, rings Maud’s doorbell and arrives bearing gifts, a “really expensive Champagne de Pompadour” and “Russian caviar [that] was also the real deal.”

Maud instantly realizes that she has made three mistakes: answering the bell, letting Jasmin in, and allowing her to float through the flat as though she owned it. A few days later, Jasmin brings pastries and coffee, bounds into the kitchen, and makes herself at home. That’s when Maud’s rage rises. She decides that she has a problem that needs a solution. Jasmin’s apartment on the ground floor has a glassed-in terrace which also serves as her art studio. When Maud visits to try to understand Jasmin’s motive for befriending her, she discovers collages of “pressed photographs, scraps of fabric, sheet music, tampons (Maud couldn’t quite see whether or not they were used), fragments of bone and all kinds of unidentifiable trash.” Maud files her observations away and begins to plan a solution to what she considers an “intrusion into her calm, peaceful world.” She plays the “old lady who was slightly confused” card, pretending to be hard of hearing and to have mobility issues, until her murderous machinations result in the first “no good” of the collection.

One of the threads that ties the narratives together is the backstories author creates for Maud. She loves to travel and has been “virtually all over the world.” So it is not unusual when, in the second story, “An Elderly Lady on Her Travels,” she finds reason to continue her penchant for murder. After Maud discovers that a former fiancé is about to marry, she seeks out him and his betrothed at the spa where they are to tie the knot. It’s a destination wedding for the now-70-year-old Gustaf Adelsiöö and his porn-star intended, Zazza Henrix, who turns out to have been one of Maud’s students. As often happens when Maud is around, a creative killing ensues.

By the time “An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace at Christmastime,” the reader has become very familiar with Maud’s motives. The reader is also well-informed about the bitterness that haunts her life because of the necessity to take care of her sister….(until she doesn’t anymore.)

Charlotte dies in a suspicious fall down “the long, steep stone staircase” in the apartment building, a staircase that features in Maud’s next problem and solution — the “famous attorney and his wife” who live directly above her and are very noisy.

She has to find a way to end the “Thump-thump-thud” disturbing her solitude. She justifies the ends (and the means) by believing that, this time, she is also solving someone else’s problems.

The fourth narrative, “The Antique Dealer’s Death,” is a way to segue into the closing story, “An Elderly Lady Is Faced with a Difficult Dilemma.” It is also the only story not told from Maud’s point of view. This one is from the perspective of another resident of the building, a journalist working on a novel. It backtracks to much of the expository information that we already know about the circumstances of Maud’s life. When the antique dealer winds up dead in Maud’s father’s “gentleman’s room,” a “time capsule [of] thick rugs, four generous brown leather easy chairs” and the lingering odor of smoking, Detective Inspectors Irene Nuss and Embla Nystrom are called in to solve what resembles a locked-room mystery. The solution comes in the final story in the collection. Here, back to Maud’s perspective, Tursten outlines the very carefully constructed crime. Though the investigative team eventually shelves the case, it is quite clear to the reader how the elderly lady restored her peace and quiet.

This little book and little stories are completely nuts, but also fun.  This is a terrific little dollop of crime  I cannot imagine a better book for the book club

 

(2) Questions for Book Club

The book doesn’t really offer much room for questions…but here are some I could think of. 

1.      Reading about Maud’s evil deeds was amusing, but would the overall effect would have been a lot more interesting if she was more clearly a villain?

Live as a villain, die as a hero-Banksy. A villain against the disparity of ignorance and uncornern with the itsy bitsy wits of butterfly, like the wind, flutter its wings, such a butterfly effect put our foot in the grat-hair clan’s shoes filled with isolation and helpless. Maud is in terms of a coarse gray woolen cloth , first recorded in 1780–90, Maud in the story do play an significant role for all the gray-hair’s Dilemma. ‘Movies need heroes and villains and real life doesn’t usually have heroes an villains-Don Hewitt.

 

2.      One of her victims is an abusive husband, so there’s some moral satisfaction in her scheme to take him out even though her actual motivation is just to end the disturbances his beatings create and get a little “peace at Christmastime.” Is Maud an avenger of wrongs ill-served by proper justice or just evil?

Fear has two meaning, Forget Everything And Run. Or, Face Everything And Rise. Everything will be good at the end, if not, it’s not the end yet. Better do the right things than do the things right. We ignore all the victims’ scream till the murder committed with unforgiven condemnation.

 

3.      Do people get away with a lot more when they are old and “seem” harmless?

We are never too old to do goofy stuff. To be an old soul with young eyes , a vintage heart and a beautiful mind. We are not getting old, but getting better.

 

4.      Is Maud’s ability to get away with her petty crime spree a cautionary tale about the dangers of ageism and sexism, which contribute to obscuring the truth about people?

Time to foucs the gray-hair syndrome earlier while we have the ability to face it and make a well preparation.

 

5.      In past novels we have looked at the moral and psychological of crime and why people do it.  Obviously there is no attempt here to do that but is there a message here by a woman writer who is writing about a woman?

Not like bloody Mary, but sip a cup of coffe to taste the delimma of the gray-hairs, a little bitter , not so bloody.

 

6.      These short stories raise questions about getting old and the way society views people who are aged.  This collection gives us a variety of views.  What do you think?

Aging is so helpless to deal with all kinds of disrespect from family and sociely.

The writer is from Sweden where most 35% aging lives alone and social agents is in charge of all the caring. In Taiwan, almost 80% are taken care by their family.

 

7.      The author is very famous in Sweden and often writes real crime novels but these are a departure.  From Agatha Christie to Ruth Rendell, do women crime writers get the recognition they deserve?

       Traditionally crime fiction ends with identifying the criminal and thus re-establishing the social and moral order. However women crime writers are more concerned with replotting the process of crime novels in ways which affect the reading process. - Christopher Dean, The Dorothy L. Sayers Society Newsletter. Women crime writers focus more on the process than the conclusions.

 December Book Club Meeting.

 

Firstly, a huge thank-you today for all the members who participated in the meeting.  It was a light book that many members had time to read and had a lot of thoughts on.  Maud is a “murdery”r88-year-old Swedish woman with no family, no friends, and…no qualms about a little murder. I think all the members found these to be a funny, irreverent story collection by Helene Tursten.  It was great to see Carol and she rightly pointed out that these stories were black comedy that will keep us laughing all the way to the retirement home.


We all loved the idea that murderous Maud learned that good things can come from tragedy. Over the course of her adventures—or  murderous misadventures—this little old lady will handle a crisis with a local celebrity who has her eyes on Maud’s apartment, foil the engagement of her long-ago lover, and dispose of some pesky and noise neighbors.  A huge thanks to Florence and Lydia, Emma,  Faye and Ling Huei for sharing their witty observations and making dark old Maud a bit less scary and a lot more humorous.   Our next book is Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and you will all have the questions and summary in the next two weeks.  See you all in January.

 

On another note by the end of the week, everyone on the mailing list will receive a link to my Google Drive with all the books in various forms.  Please take a look and see if there are any books you like and would like to lead.   The books are all free and you can access them any time.  If you have ANY problems with opening them please download this program to your pad, phone, laptop or kindle. 

 

https://www.sumatrapdfreader.org/download-free-pdf-viewer.html 

 

Related Reading:

1.an elderly lady is up to no good: http://www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/index.php/bookreview/an-elderly-lady-is-up-to-no-good-stories

2.Helene Tursten: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helene_Tursten

3.criminal psychology: https://www.google.com/search?q=crime+psychology&oq=crime+phy&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0i10i19j0i19i30l6.11543j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

4.Lake of Fryken: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fryken

5.Maude: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/maude

6.Bloody Mary: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Mary

7.Taiwan aging: https://blog.xuite.net/dd_lu0000/twblog/146856806

8. From Agatha Christie to Ruth Rendell: https://www.amazon.com/Agatha-Christie-Ruth-Rendell-Detective/dp/0333674502

9.ageism: https://www.who.int/westernpacific/news/q-a-detail/ageing-ageism

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