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Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman

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Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2010.

Set in a Finnish sanatorium where women retreat with problems real and imaginary this debut is dark, claustrophobic, tense and menacing. A dramatic and brilliantly told story but not one to try if you are looking for a light hearted read.


Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman

In a remote, piney wood in Finland stands a convalescent hospital called Suvanto, a curving concrete example of austere Scandinavian design. It is the 1920s, and the patients, all women, seek relief from ailments real and imagined. On the lower floors are the stoic Finnish women; on the upper floors are foreign women of privilege - the 'up-patients'. They are tended to by head nurse Sunny Taylor, an American who has fled an ill-starred life only to retreat behind a mask of crisp professionalism. On a late-summer day a new patient arrives on Sunny's ward - a faded, irascible former ballroom-dance instructor named Julia Dey. Sunny takes it upon herself to pierce the mystery of Julia's reserve. Soon, Julia's difficulty, her tightly coiled anger, places her at the centre of the ward's tangled emotional life. As summer turns to autumn, and autumn to a long, dark winter, the patients hear rumours about changes being implemented at Suvanto by an American obstetrician, Dr. Peter Weber, who is experimenting with a new surgical stitch. Their familiar routine threatened, the women are not happy (they were not happy before), and the story's escalating menace builds to a terrifying conclusion.

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About the Author

Maile Chapman’s stories have appeared in A Public Space, Literary Review, the Mississippi Review, and Post Road. She earned her MFA from Syracuse University and is currently a Schaeffer Fellow in Fiction at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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Book Info

Publication date

5th August 2010


Maile Chapman

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Jonathan Cape Ltd an imprint of CCV




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