After finishing The Baker’s Secret, I immediately picked up Out Stealing Horses without realizing it too was a World War II novel, though the war is used as a distant back drop rather than front and center as it was in The Baker’s Secret. For Trond Sander, an older man trying to unravel the puzzle of his life after losing his wife to a terrible accident, a slow growing clarity about his childhood does little to provide peace for his troubled soul.
As Sander slowly recalls the highlights of his youth interspersed with his present day-to-day, his relationship with his father takes front and center. Though every memory seems to be infused with sadness and regret, Sander never delves into his feelings, seeming to touch upon them from a distance. Like multicolored leaves falling from a tree in the fall, Petterson’s prose reveal Sander’s life in an intentionally uneven but steady tempo, slowly giving shape to the mysteries of Sander’s childhood and the inevitable heartbreak accompanying it.
A master of understatement, Petterson takes us on the journey of a life building to a crescendo of utter silence. This is not light reading. Don’t grab this and read it in bits and pieces. Take a weekend to get the full benefit of Petterson’s masterful prose.