WOLF WINTER

Cecilia Ekbäck

Swedish Lapland, 1717. Maija, her husband Paavo and her daughters Frederika and Dorotea arrive from their native Finland, hoping to forget the traumas of their past and put down new roots in this harsh but beautiful land. Above them looms Blackåsen, a mountain whose foreboding presence looms over the valley and whose dark history seems to haunt the lives of those who live in its shadow.

One day, Frederika happens upon the mutilated body of one of their neighbors. The death is dismissed as a wolf attack, but Maija feels certain that the wounds could only have been inflicted by another man.

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Swedish Lapland, 1717. Maija, her husband Paavo and her daughters Frederika and Dorotea arrive from their native Finland, hoping to forget the traumas of their past and put down new roots in this harsh but beautiful land. Above them looms Blackåsen, a mountain whose foreboding presence looms over the valley and whose dark history seems to haunt the lives of those who live in its shadow.

One day, Frederika happens upon the mutilated body of one of their neighbors. The death is dismissed as a wolf attack, but Maija feels certain that the wounds could only have been inflicted by another man. She’s compelled to investigate, determined to find answers for herself—just as the “wolf winter,” the harshest winter in memory, descends upon the settlers, threatening her family’s survival. Chilling both in landscape and plot, Cecilia Ekbäck’s debut novel is a remarkable work of sophisticated suspense and beautiful prose.

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  • Weinstein Books
  • Paperback
  • November 2015
  • 376 Pages
  • 9781602862944

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$16.00

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About Cecilia Ekbäck

Cecilia Ekbäck was born in Sweden in a small northern town. Her parents come from Lapland. In Wolf Winter, her first novel, she returns home to the landscape and the characters of her childhood. Ekbäck is a Professional Member of PEN American Center. She lives in Calgary with her husband and twin daughters.

Author Website

Praise

“The time and place seem so remote as to be unearthly, and the style has a stealthy quality, like a silent fall of snow; suddenly, the reader is enveloped. Visually acute, skillfully written; it won’t easily erase its tracks in the reader’s mind.” —Hilary Mantel, Man Booker Prize-Winning Author

This snapshot of life in a place where winter can be unspeakably cruel, where simply staying alive is a victory, proves irresistible.”—Kirkus Review

Exquisitely suspenseful, beautifully written, and highly recommended.”—Lee Child, #1 International Bestselling Author

A compelling, suspenseful story.” —Sunday Times

Discussion Questions

1. To what extent does landscape affect the behavior of the characters in Wolf Winter?

2. There are three narrators in this story: Maija, Frederika, and the priest. How do their narrative styles differ?

3. Women are at the center of this story. Given the period in which the book is set, their agency is limited. How easy is it for a modern reader to accept this?

4. How would you characterize the relationship between Maija and Frederika?

5. Jutta, Majia’s grandmother, appears to her. What role does she play? Why is Maija so hostile to Frederika’s gifts?

6. What role do animals – real and imagined – play in this story?

7. Other, older belief systems lie very close to the surface of people’s lives on Blackåsen Mountain. How does the Church attempt to control and manipulate them for its own end?

8. Cecila Ekbäck has described a “Wolf Winter” as a moment in our lives when we confront our very darkest thoughts. How do the three main characters emerge from their Wolf Winters?

9. What do you imagine lies in store for the priest?

10. When Maija’s husband returns (we may assume he does), how might their relationship have changed?

11. Each of the settlers has brought with them to their new homes on Blackåsen Mountain the burdens of their pasts. How do the events in the book impact on them?

12. What lies behind Elin Eriksson’s actions?

13. The Lapps lead their lives largely in parallel to the settlers. What happens when the two communities come together?

14. Why does Maija persist in her inquiries?

15. Do you think the priest is a moral, immoral, or amoral agent in the story?

16. Why do you think the other settlers regard Maija as a threat?