One warm summer day in the early 80’s Mariana, an eleven year-old girl, makes a horrific discovery. To the tones of music so familiar to her she finds her father dead on the family’s carousel. Shot and bound to one of the carousel horses he revolves round and round, an image that Mariana has been forced to live with ever since.
Over thirty years later Mariana is still living in the same town on the Swedish west coast. She is the owner of a shop selling antique toys, marionettes, masks and books. Everything changes the day a man called Amnon Goldstein, an American with Jewish roots, moves into the town. Gathering material for a book, he seeks out one inhabitant after the other, getting them to open up. Defenceless, they tell him about their lifes and in the wake of their confessions things start to happen.
But while some are enchanted by Amnon others do not view the developments quite so kindly. And when inexplicable things start occurring, an opposition movement is formed against the foreigner. In their search to find out who Amnon really is and what he wants Mariana is forced to confront the old tragedy, the murder of her father that was never resolved.
Maria Ernestam is, and remains, one of my Swedish favourite authors … Daughters of the Marionettes is a tightly woven drama where Ernestam manages to include most of our most human and naked feelings in the different characters. At the same time that she presents a useful view of society as well as a history lesson.
– Swedish daily Nerikes Allehanda