It's summer 1893, and the Norwegian fishing village of Åsgårdstrand is preparing for the arrival of well-to-do guests and bohemian artists from the city. Local girl Johanne Lien dutifully gathers berries for tourists and poses barefoot for painters as 'The Strawberry Girl'.
Johanne becomes a maid for the wealthy Ihlen family, whose wayward daughter, Tullik, recruits her as a go-between in her pursuit of the controversial painter Edvard Munch.
Before long, Johanne is drawn into the raw emotion of Munch's art and his secret liaison with Tullik. But when she is asked to hide more than just secrets, Johanne must decide whether to take the risk....
Lisa Stromme brings alive the tumultuous love affair that inspired one of the most famous paintings of all time in a vivid and bewitching story of innocence, creativity and desire.
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The Strawberry Girl — an art lover's dream
"The Strawberry Girl is quite possibly one of the best audio books I've listened to so far this year; I found myself unable to put the book down.
Firstly, I liked the way each chapter opened with a quote from Gerta's theeory of colour; it was rather like watching a verbal painting unfold, and it also meant that Johanne's character was given additional depths. The story itself was well crafted with an ending that wasn't too neat.
This is the first time I've listened to a performance by Jo Woodcock. Initially, I found her narration slightly dull, so it didn't necessarily do justice to Stromme's writing, although I was able to finish the book.
I found the book extremely moving. At times, I found myself getting slightly frustrated with Johanne (the narrator), as she was unable to stop herself from being embroiled in her mistress's wreckless schemes.
This was a brilliant debut novel; I'll definitely be reading more novels by Lisa Stromme in the future.