"But even without knowing her parents were world-renowned, Unquiet would resonate powerfully because many of the issues it explores are common to parent-child relationships.… It’s a high-wire act few writers have performed with such grace."
Hyperallergic - Dmitry Samarov
"This magnificent, elegant work is pure tour de force. It’s part elegy, part elucidation of family love and family mystery, it’s funny, wry, dry, almost untakeably moving, and all of this is held steady in the form by Linn Ullmann’s refusal to swerve from the true, by her understanding of the combined human weakness and human marvelousness in all of us, and above all by her clear eye. It is a wonderful book, unputdownable, one that taps into the sheer electric current between the fictions and the truths that make our life stories. It’s one of the best things I’ve read in a long, long time."
"Linn Ullmann has written something of beauty and solace and truth. I don’t know how she managed to sail across such dangerous waters—dangerous artistically as well as personally—without capsizing or making a mistake, but it is a tremendous accomplishment. Funny, graceful, interesting, modest, and most of all a work of the highest moral competence."
"A haunting meditation on the shifting moods between women and men over a lifetime of making art; the pains and pleasures of attachment, the boiling emotions of girlhood, the conflicts of motherhood, and the enchantment of a secluded home on the edge of a stormy sea, in which a famous father writes his dreams on the bedside table. I could not put it down."
Unquiet is a wonderfully absorbing and moving family story told with a directness, naturalness, and grace that can only result from Linn Ullmann’s close attention to the eloquent details of day-to-day life, her honest embrace of herself and the people close to her, and a keen sensitivity to language and the high demands of good writing."
"[An] exquisite and warm novel.… Among Norway’s contemporary writers, Ullmann might be the finest sentence by sentence."
…the unfulfilled longing for clarity and accountability from parents who are also artists…is one of the book's most powerful guiding emotions…Ullmann's prose…is plain, succinct and declarative, with currents of intensity flowing beneath the placid surface. The effect, in Thilo Reinhard's graceful English translation, is almost Didionesque, as the willed, witty detachment of the narrator's voice at once conceals and emphasizes the rawness of her emotions…[
Unquiet] is a collagelike group portrait of a family splintered from the start, an attempt to isolate the mother, the father and the daughter and plot their points of intersection. "Plot" may not be the right word, though the fragmentary structure generates its own kind of suspense…Ullmann's previous novel, The Cold Song, used similar techniques to turn a crime story into a meditation on cause, effect and responsibility. Unquiet is, well, quieter, and also more chaotic, finding drama and pathos in its own search for an adequate form and turning its failures into something fascinating and rich. In the process, it createsor perhaps discoverstwo characters who seem stranger, sadder and more real than the actress and the filmmaker we might have thought we knew…
The New York Times Book Review - A. O. Scott
Ullmann’s spellbinding novel (after The Cold Song) is a fragmentary portrait of a place and time, and a testament to the legacies of those she mourns. Blending memoir and literary fiction, this book presents revelatory, frank depictions of the author’s relationship to her father, legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, and of his relationship to the author’s mother, Liv Ullmann, an actress and filmmaker often considered to be his greatest inspiration. Based originally on a brief series of taped conversations between Ullmann and her father just before his death, Ullmann confronts the nature of growing old while subtly studying her own childhood and middle age through the lens of her father’s decline. She reminisces on her often idyllic and tumultuous youth, studying stacks of love letters between her parents, and considering the situations that must have brought the life of her family to where it is. Some of Ullmann’s best passages are about her charming, confounding mother: “Mamma’s rules for good parenting: 1. Children must drink milk. 2. Children must live near trees.” Echoing Duras’s The Lover in its blurring of the real and the imagined as well as in its obsessive attention to detail, this is a striking book about the enduring love between parents and children, and the fierce attachments that bind them even after death. (Jan.)
"Ullmann moves deftly between narrative selves over time—from the little girl’s raw bewilderments to the adult’s reflective meditations.
Unquiet is a beautiful book about the emotion and the art of memory."
"Ullmann’s prose... is plain, succinct and declarative, with currents of intensity flowing beneath the placid surface. The effect, in Thilo Reinhard’s graceful English translation, is almost Didionesque, as the willed, witty detachment of the narrator’s voice at once conceals and emphasizes the rawness of her emotions."
New York Times Book Review
"[An] exquisite and warm novel... Among Norway’s contemporary writers, Ullmann might be the finest sentence by sentence. Here she blasts her story into fragments and puts it back together, piece by piece, with the artistry of someone who has always secretly known the broken things are most beautiful."
"With singular imagination and generosity, Linn Ullmann breaks new ground in the art of memory, transporting us into the sources of magic in her life with her enchanting parents."
"Gracefully exquisite, sharply funny, and richly poignant... Ullmann's homage to family, art, beauty, and love is resplendently vital, and enchantingly evocative."
"Precise, lean, cadenced sentences... [
Unquiet] believably conveys the feeling—dreadful, delightful—of a child's point of view. The clarity and lack of fetter is characteristic of Ullmann's way of seeing the world in prose. "
New York Times Magazine - Wyatt Mason
★ Winter 2018
A daughter assembles the pieces of her father's long life, and in doing so gathers some of the pieces of her own life as well. In this case, her parents are the acclaimed actress Liv Ullman and the legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. The author meets with her father as he nears the end of his days in a treasured spot near the Baltic Sea, where she records their conversations, until it finally becomes apparent that his memory is failing. A few years after his passing, she creates a story, part memoir and part fiction, that features their private talks interspersed with her own charming, clear-eyed memories as a young girl fortunate to enjoy a way of life that was at once simple yet steeped in culture.
VERDICT To examine the soul of Ingmar Bergman, a man so private and so iconic, requires much deconstruction and reconstruction, not unlike the careful editing of a film. Ullman succeeds on every level, blending time, memory, and emotion into a fascinating and intimate portrait that easily evokes the universal sense of love and loss. Highly recommended. —Susanne Wells, Indianapolis P.L.