The Girl Who Lived Twice (2019) by David Lagercrantz (and translated from the Swedish into English by George Goulding) is the sixth book in the Millennium Series, first created by journalist Stieg Larsson (1954-2004).
The collection of Swedish crime novels, published originally by Norstedts Förlag, focuses on two characters: the asocial hacker Lisbeth Salander, and the investigate journalist Mikael Blomkvist, also a publisher of the magazine Millennium, which is the namesake for the saga.
The first three books (of ten planned) were written by the Swedish writer, journalist, & activist Stieg Larsson (1954-2004), and later published posthumously.
The next three books in the series were written by David Lagercrantz, also a Swedish journalist.
George Goulding has translated all three of David Lagercrantz’s continuations of the Millennium Trilogy, and he has also translated Lagercrantz’s Fall of Man in Wilmslow (2009), an acclaimed novel of Alan Turing. Born in Stockholm and educated in England, George Goulding spent his legal career working for a London-based law firm.
The Millennium Series
by Stieg Larsson
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005)
The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (2007)
by David Lagercrantz
The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2015)
The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (2017)
The Girl Who Lived Twice (2019)
Outline of The Girl Who Lived Twice
Prologue (pgs 3-5)
August 15-25 (pgs 7-112)
Chapter 1, August 15 (pgs 9-15)
Chapter 2, August 15 (pgs 16-21)
Chapter 3, August 15 (pgs 22-29)
Chapter 4, August 15 (pgs 30-40)
Chapter 5, August 16 (pgs 41-47)
Chapter 6, August 16 (pgs 48-55)
Chapter 7, August 16 (pgs 56-64)
Chapter 8, August 20 (pgs 65-79)
Chapter 9, August 24 (pgs 80-90)
Chapter 10, August 24-25 (pgs 91-103)
Chapter 11, August 25 (pgs 104-112)
The Mountain People
August 25-27 (pgs 113-234)
Chapter 12, August 25 (pgs 115-121)
Chapter 13, August 25 (pgs 122-129)
Chapter 14, August 25 (pgs 130-139)
Chapter 15, August 26 (pgs 140-150)
Chapter 16, August 26 (pgs 151-156)
Chapter 17, August 26 (pgs 157-167)
Chapter 18, August 26, Night (pgs 168-174)
Chapter 19, August 27 (pgs 175-183)
Chapter 20, August 27 (pgs 184-191)
Chapter 21, August 27 (pgs 192-203)
Chapter 22, August 27 (pgs 204-214)
Chapter 23, August 27 (pgs 215-223)
Chapter 24, August 27 (pgs 224-234)
Serving Two Masters
August 27 – September 9 (pgs 235-344)
Chapter 25, August 27 (pgs 237-248)
Chapter 26, August 27 (pgs 250-259)
Chapter 27, August 27-28, Night (pgs 260-270)
Chapter 28, May 13, 2008 (pgs 271-274)
Chapter 29, August 28 (pgs 275-284)
Chapter 30, August 28 (pgs 285-295)
Chapter 31, August 28 (pgs 296-303)
May 13, 2008 (pgs 299-300)
Chapter 32, August 28 (pgs 304-316)
May 14, 2008 (pgs 307-308)
Chapter 33, August 28 (pgs 317-327)
September 30, 2017, Kathmandu (pgs 319-321)
Chapter 34, August 28 (pgs 328-332)
Chapter 35, August 28 (pgs 333-335)
Chapter 36, September 9 (pgs 336-344)
Epilogue (pgs 345-347)
About the Mystery
“Most of the day he sat on a piece of cardboard right by the fountain and the statue of Thor in Mariatorget, and there he commanded a measure of respect. With his head held high and his back always straight he looked like a chieftain who had fallen on hard times. That was all the social capital he had left, and it was why some people still tossed him coins or banknotes, as though they could sense a lost greatness. And they were not mistaken” (p 3).
The story begins with an image of a homeless man — a beggar, a “crazy dwarf” — who mysteriously showed up next to the bronze statue and fountain inside Maria Square, located in Stockholm.
The deranged beggar constantly mutters that he “must find Dharamsala, and Ihawa” (pgs 3-5). When the nameless beggar is killed, the mystery begins for Blomkvist & Salander who must try to unravel who the beggar was and how he could’ve been connected to one of the most powerful men in Sweden, the Minister of Defence, Johannes Forsell.
“It was a statue he walked past more often than any other in town. Yet he could not have said what it represented, as with so many things in front of our noses. If anyone had asked him, he would probably have guessed at St. George and the Dragon. But it was Thor slaying the sea serpent Jörmungandr. During all these years he had never even read the inscription, and this time too he looked past the statue at a young father pushing his son on a swing in the playground, and at the benches and the grass on which people were sitting with their faces turned to the sun. It looked like any Sunday morning. And yet he sensed that there was something missing. It must be his memory playing tricks, he thought, and he had already set off again, turning into St. Paulsgatan, when it dawned on him… What was missing was a figure he had not seen for a while now, but who used to sit on a piece of cardboard by the statue, motionless, like a meditating monk…
“The number of beggars had grown at around the same time that Stockholmers had stopped carrying cash, and just like everybody else he had learned to look away. Often he did not even feel guilty, and he was overcome by melancholy, not necessarily because of the man or even the plight of beggars in general; it was perhaps rather the transience of time, and how life changes and we barely notice it” (pgs 42-43).
Johannes Forsell, the Minister of Defence, is quickly implicated in the beggar’s death, or at the very least, Forsell is considered to have been involved in a bigger scheme with nefarious designs that led to the beggar’s murder.
“Forsell criticizes Russia and accuses them of interfering with the Swedish electoral process and suddenly he’s hated by everybody and up to his neck in lies, and driven to the depths of despair. Then, hey presto, a dead Sherpa appears from nowhere and the finger points straight at Forsell. I have the feeling someone’s trying to set him up” (p 160).
The mystery only deepens as Blomkvist & Salander begin to make deeper and more meaningful connections among the living and the dead, especially relating to spies and double agents:
“Secret agents, double agents, spies: sometimes their mission from the start is to infiltrate the enemy and to contrive smokescreens. Not infrequently they are turned politically, or submit to threats or inducements… In some cases, their ultimate allegiance is not crystal clear. Sometimes even they do not know where they stand” (p 235).
One underlying theme throughout the book is how Poverty is constantly contrasted against luxurious Wealth, and the implications this has on society.
“As a child, Camilla had longed to get out and away, far from Lundagatan, and away from life with her sister and mother, leaving behind the poverty and vulnerability. From an early age she knew that she deserved better. She had a distant memory of being in the Ljusgården atrium at the NK department store. A woman wearing a fur coat and patterned trousers was laughing, and she was so incredibly beautiful that she seemed to belong to another world entirely…
“She stared at Agneta — even then she called her mother Agneta — who was looking at the Christmas window display with Lisbeth, and she saw the yawning gulf. These two women were radiant, as if life laid out for their enjoyment alone, whereas Agneta was stooped and pale, dressed in worn and ugly clothes…
“There were many such moments in her childhood, times when she felt both elated and damned: elated because people would call her as pretty as a little princess, damned because she was part of a family which lived on the margins, in the shadows” (pgs 48-49).
The backstory is eventually discovered with the beggar, Mats Sabin, and Forsell centering around events that transpired on Mount Everest years before in May 2008.
Mats Sabin, a military historian, died hiking the trail between Abisko and Nikkaluokta in May 2016 while he was considered to have been in “good shape” (p 101).
“It was the beginning of May and the forecast had been good, yet the weather turned to freezing towards the evening of the third. The temperature dropped to minus eight degrees, and Sabin seemed to have suffered a stroke and collapsed not far from the Abiskojåkka River. He never reached any of the mountain huts dotted along the track. He was found dead on the morning of the fourth by a group of hikers from Sundbyberg. There was no suggestion of suspicious circumstances, nor any sign of violence. He was sixty-seven years old” (p 101).
Blomkvist’s investigations lead him ever closer to the hidden connection between the beggar, Mats Sabin, Klara Engelman, Viktor Grankin, and Johannes Forsell, with Forsell still alive to tell the secrets about what really happened on Mount Everest in May 2008. But does Forsell wish to reveal more about the secrets to the known and the unknown regarding that day on the mountain? And what was the meaning of “Rainbow Valley”?
“From whichever angle he viewed it, Blomkvist could not but feel sorry for Forsell. Which might be just the wrong attitude, now that he had to investigate whether he had any connection with the beggar and perhaps even with Mats Sabin, the military historian” (p 117).
“A bit like the fallen angel in paradise… she serves nobody, belongs to nobody” (p 92), Salander has also been doing some research into the tragic events on Mount Everest in May 2008 which reveal that there are more deaths to investigate than the already dead beggar and Mats Sabin, and what really happened that day the storm hit the mountain.
“Not that he had really believed it was anything to do with the Minister of Defence. But still… one could not ignore the fact that Forsell had climbed Mount Everest in 2008. Blomkvist resolved to get to the bottom of the story. There was no shortage of material about the drama…
“Klara Engelman was on the same expedition as Johannes Forsell and his friend Svante Lindberg, who was now his parliamentary undersecretary. All three had paid seventy-five thousand dollars to be guided to the summit, and that of course added insult to injury. Everest was said to have become a haunt for the rich, who were there only to boost their egos. The leader of the expedition and owner of the guiding company was Viktor Grankin, a Russian, and in addition to him there were three guides, a Base Camp manager, a doctor and fourteen Sherpas — and the ten clients. This many people were needed to get them to the top.
“Could the beggar have been one of those Sherpas? The thought had occurred to Blomkvist right away, and before he looked into the tragedy any further he tried to find out more about them. Was it possible that one of them had ended up in Sweden, or had a special relationship with Forsell? For many of them he drew a complete blank, but for a young Sherpa, Jangbu Chiri, there seemed to be a connection…
“[Forsell] and his friend Lindberg had reached the summit at one in the afternoon of May 13, 2008. The sky was still clear and they stayed up there for a while, admiring the view. They took photographs and reported back down to Base Camp. But not long after, in the narrow rock passage known as the Hillary Step, on the way down to the South Summit, they started to have problems and time began to run away from them.
“At half past three — by which time they had only got as far as the so-called Balcony at 27,500 feet — they began to worry that they would run out of oxygen and would not make it down to Camp IV. Visibility had worsened too, and even though Forsell had no idea what was happening around them, he suspected that something serious had occurred…
“Soon after that the storm hit the mountain and everything turned into a lashing chaos. The cold was extreme, close to minus seventy-six degrees Fahrenheit, and the two of them were freezing and hardly able to distinguish up from down. It was understandable that neither of them could give a detailed account of how they made it down to the tents on the Southeast Ridge…
“Salander did spot some discrepancies in their stories… Personally, she did not think it was all that remarkable, not compared to the real drama that was unfolding on another part of the mountain, where Klara Engelman and her guide Viktor Grankin died that afternoon… Why, of all people, was it the prestige client who lost her life, when there where so many others on the mountain that day? Why did she have to die, she, the subject of so much gossip and vilification…
“Salander thought about this, and about all the other bodies left up there on the slopes, year after year, without anybody being able to bring them down and bury them” (pgs 130-138).
One could go further and explain more, but there’s not going to be any spoilers here. The situation has been established: Death on Mount Everest. But death on Mount Everest is considered a normal hazard of the climb. So what happened to these people? How is the Minister of Defence Forsell involved with all these people from so long ago? And what the hell is Rainbow Valley?
Well, Rainbow Valley is found on Mount Everest, and we can go ahead and explain more about that for you:
“He pointed at the screen and wondered if he was being unnecessarily brutal. But he wanted her to understand how serious this was. Image after image showed dead climbers in the snow above twenty-six thousand feet, and even though many had been lying up there for years, maybe even decades, they still looked muscular and strong. They were frozen in time, and all were dressed in brightly coloured clothes — reds, greens, yellows and blues — and strewn around them were oxygen cylinders, remains of tents or Buddhist prayer flags, also in brilliant hues. It really did look like a rainbow landscape, a macabre testimony to human folly” (p 230).
The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a been member of the Hemingway Society, Americans for the Arts, PEN America, Club Med, & the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also a been Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London. He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystic’s Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), Little Hometown, America (2020); A Time to Forget in East Berlin (2022), and Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being (2023).
He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.
“Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being is a captivating new dystopian science fiction novel by CG Fewston, an author already making a name for himself with his thought-provoking work. Set in the year 2183, Conquergood is set in a world where one company, Korporation, reigns supreme and has obtained world peace, through oppression... The world-building in the novel is remarkable. Fewston has created a believable and authentic post-apocalyptic society with technological wonders and thought-provoking societal issues. The relevance of the themes to the state of the world today adds an extra wrinkle and makes the story even more compelling.”
“A spellbinding tale of love and espionage set under the looming shadow of the Berlin Wall in 1975… A mesmerising read full of charged eroticism.”
“An engrossing story of clandestine espionage… a testament to the lifestyle encountered in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War.”
“There is no better way for readers interested in Germany’s history and the dilemma and cultures of the two Berlins to absorb this information than in a novel such as this, which captures the microcosm of two individuals’ love, relationship, and options and expands them against the blossoming dilemmas of a nation divided.”
~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“A Time to Forget in East Berlin is a dream-like interlude of love and passion in the paranoid and violent life of a Cold War spy. The meticulous research is evident on every page, and Fewston’s elegant prose, reminiscent of novels from a bygone era, enhances the sensation that this is a book firmly rooted in another time.”
“Vivid, nuanced, and poetic…” “Fewston avoids familiar plot elements of espionage fiction, and he is excellent when it comes to emotional precision and form while crafting his varied cast of characters.” “There’s a lot to absorb in this book of hefty psychological and philosophical observations and insights, but the reader who stays committed will be greatly rewarded.”
GOLD Winner in the 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Awards for Contemporary Realistic Fiction
FINALIST in the SOUTHWEST REGIONAL FICTION category of the 14th Annual National Indie Excellence 2020 Awards (NIEA)
“Fewston employs a literary device called a ‘frame narrative’ which may be less familiar to some, but allows for a picture-in-picture result (to use a photographic term). Snapshots of stories appear as parts of other stories, with the introductory story serving as a backdrop for a series of shorter stories that lead readers into each, dovetailing and connecting in intricate ways.”
“The American novelist CG FEWSTON tells a satisfying tale, bolstered by psychology and far-ranging philosophy, calling upon Joseph Campbell, J. D. Salinger, the King James Bible, and Othello.”
“In this way, the author lends intellectual heft to a family story, exploring the ‘purity’ of art, the ‘corrupting’ influences of publishing, the solitary artist, and the messy interconnectedness of human relationships.”
“Fewston’s lyrical, nostalgia-steeped story is told from the perspective of a 40-year-old man gazing back on events from his 1980s Texas childhood…. the narrator movingly conveys and interprets the greater meanings behind childhood memories.”
“The novel’s focus on formative childhood moments is familiar… the narrator’s lived experiences come across as wholly personal, deeply felt, and visceral.”
American Novelist CG FEWSTON
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