Review: Anna minun rakastaa enemmän by Juha Itkonen (eng. Let Me Love More)

PAPERBACK; 398 P.
TEOS, 2010/2005
SOURCE: FROM THE LIBRARY

Disclaimer: This book has, unfortunately, not been translated into English. Thus all the excerpts here have been translated by yours truly.

“To be he who matters: he of the songs. To be he who is loved, missed, and hated. He who is found or left behind. To live in the minds of people, to live forever.”

Leena Vaahtera and Antti Salokoski – the mother and ex-boyfriend of Finland’s greatest rock star Summer Maple, real name Suvi Vaahtera. Both of them – willingly or not – play a part in the fairy-tale story of Summer Maple. Perhaps as side characters as neither can control her story. But can anyone? For Summer Maple has disappeared, like a needle in a haystack, in the middle of her visit to Africa.

In their own ways, both Leena and Antti unravel their lives and their relationship to a person whom they love but who has transformed into someone else. How to connect with her whose whole presence is only dreams and illusions, who belongs to everybody and nobody?

This is the second novel by writer Juha Itkonen. It is an intense description of the dreams and wishes of two generations, as well as of the price of these dreams. It is a book about music. About love. About the ultimate love of music.

Anna minun rakastaa enemmän starts with the news of the disappearance of Summer Maple, Finland’s greatest and most successful rock star. The news come as a shock to Antti, an ex-boyfriend of Summer Maple, and he begins to reminisce their relationship and the beginning of Summer’s career. Next, we are introduced to Leena, a normal middle-aged woman who is cleaning the house in preparation for a move. But Leena is not completely ordinary – she is the mother of Summer Maple. The narration of the story alternates between these two characters and between the past and present. We get a glimpse of the 1970s and the romance of Leena and her husband Risto. Next chapter, we meet Summer Maple, then Suvi Vaahtera, for the first time in a house party in the 1990s.

The descriptions of different time periods were all very interesting – the wealth of the 1980s, the depression in the 1990s, the globalisation of the 2000s. For a music fan, this book is a treasure as it is filled with details that connected it to a real-life events and bands. The writer had really done an immense job in depicting the society of the time, and for that I cannot but love the book. At times, however, the description takes over from the plot which slows down the reading. The amount of detail also slows down the book, making it not so easily digestible.

Anna minun rakastaa enemmän has two narrators, Leena and Antti. Both have their own, specific voices and it was interesting to see the differences as well as the similarities of these narrators. The characters never meet in the story so the only thing that connects them is the girl they both love. Or is it? In a way they are similar in their undying, devoted love. At the beginning of the book, I got a feeling that it would be very similar to Deborah Spungen’s book. However, this story was not just about Summer Maple – it is about love and the hard reality of falling in love.

For me, it was refreshing to read well-written, modern Finnish fiction – a genre that I rarely read these days – and hopefully I’ll get to read more of Itkonen’s works sooner or later.

4/5

I am ‘he’ in Summer Maple’s songs. First it was only a line, written at the back of an electricity bill.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Anna minun rakastaa enemmän by Juha Itkonen (eng. Let Me Love More)

  1. Haven’t read this book but I rarely even bother with Finnish literature as I often get the feeling that it is lacking something. This one seems interesting however, so I will definitely have a look. You write excellent reviews:)

    • Thank you! I know what you mean – when visiting bookstores and libraries, I have a tendency to only browse the books in the English section, and disregard the rest. However, I’m trying to improve on that and read more Finnish fiction. In fact, I’ll probably challenge myself to read The Egyptian or some other Finnish classic during the summer.

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