As I began packing for my holiday just a few weeks ago, there was one essential I knew had to make it into my suitcase. Amongst the sunscreen and bikini’s, room just had to be made for The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. I first fell for Larsson’s witting earlier this year when I began the mesmerizing and unforgettable The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, a book which captured my attention with its edgy and daring style.
I was off course tempted to start The Girl Who Played With Fire almost as soon as I had finished the first book, however some books are just perfect holiday stories and this story really fits the bill. Mentally not too demanding but still emotionally hard-hitting with a plot line I can really sink my teeth into.
So I forced myself to wait and frankly it was well worth it. No sooner had a I sunk into my sun lounger then I was totally immersed within the story. The novel begins with the same fast and urgent pace that makes Larsson’s stories so intoxicating and captivating, my mind was soon reeling with excitement. A year has passed since Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist were embroiled in the Wennerström affair which so nearly ended in tragedy. Now Lisbeth has seemingly disappeared from Stockholm and a frustrated Mikael has being unable to contact the mysterious and beguiling ‘wasp’.
But Lisbeth is never a simple or predictable character and whilst the rest of the world might be in the dark about her whereabouts, Larsson allows his readers to become personally reunited with our ‘heroine’.
Off course her life has been in no way dull and we soon learn that she has ‘aquried’ a sizeable fortune which has allowed her the time and space to finally begin to move forward from her dark and tortured past. But I knew that nothing could be so simple and I waited with bated breath and a sense of unease and fear for Larsson to really mix things up.
When two innocent journalists are murdered Lisbeth becomes the number one suspect, the whole of Sweden seems desperate to have the elusive young woman captured and reprimanded, the police refuse to consider her as innocent and any establishment or person of authority is only too keen to label and cast of Lisbeth as a deranged and dangerous woman beyond any help. I wont spoil the plot of the story, my description so far only scratches the surface, what lies beneath is a richly complex treat all readers such discover for themselves. However winning plotline aside, there’s another element to this book that for me was far more enduring and important.
This is Lisbeth herself. Never has a character left me so fascinated or held me in such rapture. It’s one thing for a writer to create a character who is affable and pleasing, it’s another for a writer to create a character who is one hand appealing, sympathy inducing, often heroic, and at times even loveable, but at others questionable, freighting and even horrifying. There’s something so much more human and believable about a character like a Lisbeth.
She is not perfect, nor is she a biased product of her creators imagination. But she is multi faceted, she has many layers, her actions can be condemnable, even repulsive and yet they can be inspiring and moving. Larsson forces us to draw on our morals and ethics and as well as encouraging us to emotionally connect with Lisbeth. And for me this made her one of the most intriguing female characters in a work of fiction. She is someone who society has condemned and pigeon hold, rejected and defiled, and yet she has risen from her past, endured, survived and stayed true to herself. Her life choices cannot always be justified, but would she be so plausible if you could?
It’s good to meet a character who really shakes up literatures perceptions of women. The fact that the book was written by a male, a male no longer alive and therefore unable to comment upon his work, well this just makes the book all the more unforgettable for me.
Now, after nearly six hundred pages even this fan needs a short break, but I’m sure it wont be long until I’m trying the next in this instalment, Th Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest. But what about everyone else, have you read this book or any other of the Millennium books, maybe you have read them all, or perhaps you’ve seen the films. Either I’d love to know what you all think.