Two women give birth, each to a son, but six years later it is found out that the children were mixed up at the maternity ward. This leads to their being swapped to return to their rightful families. One boy is called Johannes. The other is the narrator. Johanna – Johannes’ new mother – decides that Johannes must have a sister, and that is how Eeva – Liisa comes into the lives of the boys and whose tragic life becomes the hub around which the novel moves. A melancholy and poignant and also paradoxically relieving story with keen and, at the same time enigmatic images. An attempt, like with Proust to recapture the past.
”There are only three sorts of people: executioners, victims and traitors” writes Johannes in his notes, retold by the narrator. Around these characters, placed in a little country community in the years around the Second World War, Enquist weaves an authentic family drama about the good and the evil, a synthesis of naturalism and myth, a drama of great beauty and pain.