In brief

STEINHOF. By Carola Hansson. Translated from the Swedish by Irene Scobbie. Arcadia. pound;11.99.

Magda is 23 in 1956 when her small country school for girls in Hungary hears of the approach of invading Russian troops. She leads her pupils in a crocodile through the mountains to Austria, telling them that they're off to pick mushrooms; they take with them a homeless boy, for whom Magda becomes a surrogate mother.

After the transit camp, she finds herself teaching music in Vienna once "her" children have been dispersed to foster homes; she attempts to rebuild her life, but ends up in the mental hospital of the title. Hansson, a top Swedish novelist, tells the shattering story in an effectively understated style.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you