Monica Isakstuen

The Little Girls

De små jentene

Of course, to outsiders it seems idyllic
a little, white-washed cabin, partially concealed
by a few clusters of
windblown pine trees

People are moving in there; the holidaymakers are waking up. Soon this summer morning will be under way, filled with longings and needs, but also with rules and handed-down admonitions. Love and scorn, side by side. Do this, not that; speak like this, not like that; and how do you behave? The rebukes threaten to consume the day. But then it opens up, in the imagination or in life, and something is finally able to happen.

The woman in The Little Girls wants to be liberated from ghosts, to connect with her daughters in a sincere way; she dreams of genuine intimacy across roles and ages. Perhaps that’s not possible, but you’re still allowed to hope.

Original (5)

“Let’s not beat around the bush: The Little Girls is a really good book, a wise, funny and moving story of motherhood, grief and longing for closeness. Not least, it is told with refinement, and astonishingly balanced for a novel told from a first-person point of view.”


“A new example of Monica Isakstuen’s gift for finding ever new, original, and clever ways of putting evergreen themes into words.”

Original (6)
Photo: Julie Pike

Monica Isakstuen (b. 1976) made her literary debut in 2009. Her 2014 novel Replay about pianist Joyce Hatto and the greatest fraud in classical music earned rave reviews, with VG naming it “one of the best books of the year”. She won the 2016 Norwegian Book Award Brageprisen for fiction for her novel Be Kind to The Animals.

Her books and plays have been translated into several languages.