A story of emigration, of mothers, daughters and brothers, and what it is like to live with longing in your heart

This award-winning debut novel delves into the fate of an Ostrobothnian emigree to Canada and the longing which has planted itself in her mind.

The twilight of day is awaiting Maria Alina. The only visitors she has are dead relatives, J. R. Ewing of Dallas, and a home care nurse whose name she can’t remember. She has, however, an important task remaining: to write the story of her life for her daughter on the other side of the Atlantic. If there is one thing Maria Alina regrets in her life, it’s that she was silent when she should have spoken.

Death, sorrow, and longing have tinted Maria Alina’s life, which opens as a series of intense scenes starting in her childhood. She speaks about trips across the ocean, about staying put and forgetting, about brothers who believed they could fly, and about old women who know how to turn longing around.

A story of boundless yearning, suppressed tears, and restrained people, the novel has been inspired by the story of Bertell’s grandmother.


A detailed and insightful story of four generations and what it means to be human, set in the heart of the Finnish Osthrobothian plains.

Nominated for Finlandia Prize 2020 and Runeberg Prize 2020

When Elof is ten years old, his father dies, leaving him and his little brother Ivar alone at the mercy of their relatives. Fear becomes their companion throughout life – a companion who can only be disciplined by the joy of storytelling, alcohol and women. Elof knows that he is a bit of a coward, but has learned that he must never show fear, especially not in front of others and never to his wife Olga, whom he never really gets close to. Pride is the most important thing to Elof, as is their homestead, Heiman, which is all the family has ever truly owned.

Homestead talks about how love and trauma are passed on from one generation to another. This intense family chronicle asks the question; what is the price you have to pay, if you never get to be yourself? Ann-Luise Bertell writes an epic tale with a great drive, crystallized in scenes with strong sensual sensations, full of rich emotions.

Ann-Luise Bertell

Ann-Luise Bertell is an author and a theater director, born 1971 in Oravais, Finland. She has graduated from the Finnish Theater Academy, and debuted as a writer in 1997 with the collection of poems, ‘Rus av gul’, and has since written poems, short stories, a children’s book, plays and two novels. Longing (Vänd om min längtan, 2016), was awarded the Yle Prize and the Choreus Prize. Her second novel Homestead (Heiman) was published in 2020 and was nominated for the Finlandia Prize, and her third novel Yearning (Glöm Bort Din Saknad) was published 2022.

Ann-Luise has been Wasa Theatre’s director since 2020, but is also a mother of three, dog owner, hiker, seeker, spy and bookworm.


A person can miss someone else so much that they stop seeing the people living right next to them

It is the 1950s, a time of movie stars, but in the muddy villages of Ostrobothnia everything is as it has always been. The Canadian Finn Marlene and her twin sister Susanne only know the plains of Ostrobothnia through what their parents have told them. Now, their family moves back to Finland, but the return to Vöyri is just as bittersweet as setting off from the other side of the Atlantic was, and life doesn’t go exactly as planned. The cows’ hooves freeze to the field, mother’s lipstick, dreams and hats have to stay in a suitcase in the attic, and the job father was offered at the bank never becomes a reality.

Marlene is not a sweet girl like her constantly smiling sister, Susanne. She is curious and wants to find out about everything, like the mysterious places of the Kirksal in the village or how people have children. She sees the bitter war between her parents, feels her own desires rushing in, hears the malicious gossip of their neighbors, and learns the ancient knowledge of her grandmother. However, nobody talks about why, one day, father’s suitcase stands packed and ready.

Yearning is the coming-of-age story of young Marlene and the parallel novel to Longing, which was from the point of view of Marlene’s mother. Bertell’s prose captures the experience of being an immigrant and the thoughts of those who stay quiet, asking how blind one can be when it comes to one’s loved ones.

Bertell’s powerful and effortless narration recounts a family’s experiences, the longing of immigrants, and the challenging relationships between mothers and daughters in a 1950s village in Ostrobothnia.