One Station Away by Olaf Olafsson

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My Review:

Reading this book I was pleasantly surprised…it was not what I expected, knowing the author, Olaf Olafsson, a successful businessman, is the Executive Vice President of Time Warner and was responsible for introducing Sony PlayStation.

 One Station Away is a thoughtful story about Magnus, a Yale neurologist, and three important women in his life; his patient, his fiancé and his mother.   He conducts research on head trauma patients who appear to have no mental capabilities but in fact may be conscious and communicative.  He spends many evenings holding his patient’s hand and feeling powerless to help as he thinks of ways to try and connect with her.  Magnus struggles with the recent loss of his

beloved fiancé, as his unconditional love for her may have allowed her to hide something devastating from him.  He was so thankful to be in a relationship with her, he believes he overlooked now obvious indication of a problem and cannot come to terms with the fact that, as a doctor, he missed the signs.  Magnus feels guilty about his less than perfect relationship with his aging parents and grapples with feelings of mutual rejection from his mother.  She is a professional musician and during his formative years up until now, Magnus has not been supportive of her accomplishments and often felt he was a burden and unwanted by his mother.

One Station Away gives us a peak into Magnus’s thoughts and emotions as he replays interactions and revisits research regarding the immobile patient while he desperately attempt to connect with her.  He continually recollects time spent with his deceased fiancé to uncover informations that will help him to understand her, and he repeatedly thinks of childhood memories of his recently musically recognized mother, to come to terms with their relationship, with the not so natural desire to recognize her new found success she seemed to achieve overnight with the release of some classical piano recordings. Past memories are replayed in Magnus’s mind as he tries to detect where he could have connected more fully with each of these women.  His medical prowess, his sensitive actions exemplifying his feelings of love, and his desire for connection all make me care about Magnus. He is attempting to be in touch with his feelings and has good sense but feels an overwhelming need to not let anyone down. This human story of memories and relationships examines Magnus’s great depth of character and I highly recommend it!

As Seen on Goodreads:

An overlooked pianist who finally receives fraught success after decades of disappointment. An elusive dancer whose untimely death her fiancé is desperate to untangle. A mysterious patient who is comatose after a violent accident.

These are the three women who animate Olaf Olafsson’s brilliantly rendered One Station Away. Magnus, a New York neurologist—son to one, lover to another, and doctor to a third—is the thread that binds these women’s stories together as he navigates relationships defined by compromise and misunderstanding, guilt and forgiveness, and, most of all, by an obsessive attempt to communicate—to understand and to be understood, to love and to be loved.

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About the Author:

Olaf Olafsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1962. He studied physics as a Wien Scholar at Brandeis University. He is the author of three previous novels, The Journey Home, Absolution and Walking Into the Night, and a story collection, Valentines. His books have been published to critical acclaim in more than twenty languages. He is the recipient of the O. Henry Award and the Icelandic Literary Award, was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Prize, and has twice been nominated for the IMPAC Award. He is the Executive Vice President of Time Warner and he lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

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