Vera is a nurse from Sweden who, while delivering a dangerous birth in the Colombian jungle, makes contact with indigenous people who give her a wholly different outlook on life. A traumatic experience takes her home, her life in pieces, just like the world as she now sees it. Her quest to put her life back together becomes tied up with her vision of a more sustainable world.
She meets the corporate heir to a company specializing in luxury travel who has a predatory attitude to women. Could such opposites really attract? And, if they came together, could they actually do something to halt the global march to self-destruction?
An exploration of the inter-connectedness of human life and an unexpected love story, Integrity delves deep into the choices and emotions of a woman trying to change the world, and a man trying to change with her.
This genre-bending novel has achieved cult status in Sweden where Anna Borgeryd heads one of the country’s most progressive companies.
Author: Anna Borgeryd
Genre: Literature & Fiction | Political Change | Contemporary
Publisher: New Internationalist
Published: February 16, 2016
Format: Paperback, 512 pages
FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of Integrity from Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc. in exchange for a fair and honest review. Opinions expressed are mine.
When I received my review copy of Integrity by Anna Borgeryd, I was a bit stunned at its length–512 pages. But the cover comments and reviews told me I wanted to read this book with an intriguing premise and contemporary topics such as finance and troubled banks and one other thing, greed.
I dug in with my heels to read this massive tome and took some time settling into the story line. Somehow I felt lost somewhere between Vera, the female lead character, in the throes of nearly losing her life while volunteering in Colombia. Suddenly, she’s back at school as a graduate student but seemingly so misdirected she can’t get a handle on things. At this point, the book picks up the plot and it begins to make sense.
Unfortunately, despite the excellence in the writing and the translation (both done very well), the narrative is somewhat repetitive and soporific while the character development lacked depth and overall development. Vera and her male counterpart, Peter, reminded me of days of playing with paper doll cutouts–no substance, flimsy, unable to stand alone. Along the way, so many starts and stops on this topic or that make me wonder about cutting a few pages. Perhaps it would have been more interesting and not so dull in places.
The rule of thumb in writing a good book is showing and not telling. As this is Borgeryd’s first book, perhaps some leniency is due here but I feel she tells me too much (as if she is writing a research report or a grant application) and shows me far too little to get a clear picture of what’s happening.
Another point of leniency in my judgment of the book is the fact it has been translated. Quite often something is lost in translation (no pun intended here). I wonder if this is the case with Integrity.
If the author had been more in control of her subject and her character development, I believe she could have had a winner here. However, for me, it took every ounce of energy to push to the last of those 512 pages.
Note that I did appreciate the goal behind Vera and Peter’s work, and how that work changed their relationship for the better. Clearly, Borgeryd wanted us to see the comparison between high dollar research and corporate power and the simple, everyday relationship between a man and a woman. This was incredibly well done.
Anna Borgeryd is a Swedish author, environmentalist and blogger with a Ph. D. in conflict management. As part of the fifth generation at the helm of family business Polarbröd she works to secure a sustainable supply of bread. Committed to solutions that can sustain humanity, she tweets @annaborgeryd about global challenges and what we can do to manage them.