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“Anna stared at him with a blush that started at her neck and crept up her cheeks. “‘His name is Hercules,'” she said quietly.”

I found myself somewhat at a loss for words when entering into Karin Tidbeck’s “Beatrice.” She makes no hesitation in introducing this story as atypical and bizarre. “Franz Hiller, a physician, fell in love with an airship.” (pg. 15, Tidbeck) No hidden metaphors in this sentence; Franz Hiller was truly in love with an airship. Similarly to Franz, Anna Goldberg is seen to be deeply in love with a steam engine, Hercules. But as I continued to read, I was entranced by this twisted love story between human and machine. Tidbeck employs the typical attributes of the airship and the steam engine in ways that are often used to describe humans. “Beatrice remained cold and distant, no matter how Franz tried to warm their relationship” (pg. 19, Tieback) — cold, much like the feel of the metal, and distant, like the physical barrier separating them. But also cold like a woman’s heart might be or distant as the result of emotional walls. The story continues with easy conversation between Franz and Anna and, I’ll admit, I half expected the two of them to fall deeply in love. But, to my surprise, Anna offers words of wisdom. “Infatuation is worth nothing. It has nothing to do with the real world.” (pg. 19, Tidbeck) womanThis sort of advice is something I couldn’t have anticipated — adding a much deeper meaning to an otherwise odd story. Anna later gives birth to what I’d like to call a bionic baby. This child, part human and part machine, is born with a hefty list of needs. Franz is depicted “greas(ing) Josephine’s pistons” and “feed(ing) her a steady diet of coal-water.” (pg. 21) My initial read of this reminded me of the challenges associated with a child with disabilities. While still behaving “much like a normal baby,” her needs are fine-tuned and require a significant amount of attention and devotion. Tidbeck defies the parameters of a typical love story and concludes with a relatively anticlimactic ending. Beatrice II is set free with Josephine close by her side.

One Response to “Not Your Average Love Story”

  1. Emma: This is very nicely done. In particular, I admired the insight behind this comment: “My initial read of this reminded me of the challenges associated with a child with disabilities. While still behaving ‘much like a normal baby,’ her needs are fine-tuned and require a significant amount of attention and devotion.”

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