Set in 1940s Paris, this bittersweet international bestselling debut novel has sold in over twenty-three territories.
A psychiatrist is counting down toward his upcoming retirement. He lives alone in his childhood home and has neither friends nor family.
Often, he resorts to drawing bird caricatures of his patients instead of taking notes. His social life consists of brief conversations with his meticulous secretary, Madame Surrugue, who has reigned over the clinic for more than thirty years. The two of them have no relationship outside the office, where everything runs smoothly and uneventfully.
Until one day, that is, when a young German woman called Agatha arrives and demands to see the doctor, and he soon realizes that underneath her fragile exterior is a strong and fascinating woman. The doctor and Agatha embark upon a course of therapy together, a process that forces the doctor to confront his fear of true intimacy outside the clinic. But is it too late to reconsider your existence as a seventy-one-year-old?
Praise for Agatha:
“Agatha is a seductive tale, pleasingly spare and evocative. Told with tenderness and humour, it invites readers to believe that the broken can heal the broken, that doctors and patients may learn from each other, if both dare to risk being fully seen and truly come to know themselves.” —Martha Baillie, author of If Clara and The Search for Heinrich Schlögel
“With deft sagacity, Anne Cathrine Bomann reveals how the possibility for transformation lies coiled within any life. In Agatha, no one is too old or desiccated to see newly. I was immediately entranced by this minimalist tale and its hopeful, timeless story.” —Catherine Bush, author of Blaze Island and The Rules of Engagement
International Praise for Agatha:
“Charming, funny, and packed with insight.” (★★★★) —Irish Times
“This short, uplifting book brings us a more fully-realized character than most authors could manage with three times the room, and some painfully hard-won moments of genuine human contact in an arid life.” —The Herald Scotland
“A shrewd, skillful tale of loneliness, the search for meaning and a place in the world, and the problems of truly relating to another human being. Bomann is a psychologist herself, and, although her at-a-sitting debut is on the slight side, she effectively makes her case for the importance of opening one’s eyes and heart.” (★★★★★)
—The Independent, UK
“Bomann is a psychologist herself, and… she effectively makes her case for the importance of opening one’s eyes and heart.” —The Daily Mail, UK
“This debut novel by a psychologist (and table tennis champion) is a touching, subtle, and gently funny story of rediscovering one’s purpose late in life.”(★★★★★) —Bookish Beck
“Astounding.” —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany
“I absolutely adored this book and read it in one sitting.” —The Sun, UK (★★★★★)
“A novella about an elderly psychiatrist in 1940s Paris makes for an unlikely literary phenomenon. But Anne Cathrine Bomann’s debut novel is a quietly uplifting masterpiece” —Stylist, UK
“Bringing together two people ill-treated and disillusioned by life, Agathe beguiles with its cozy atmosphere and the immense attention the author gives to the emotions of its sometimes bumbling characters.” —Le Monde, France
“Anne Cathrine Bomann delves into every human relationship’s dark side. She gently and empathically deals with essential questions.” —Corriere della Sera, Italy
“Agathe is a small, quiet tale, but as small as it is, as big subjects are treated. … Agathe is filled to the brim with colourful pictures, poetic beauty, profound human understanding, celestial existential philosophy, and a life-changing transformation that filled me with total excitement. I send the sparrow on to the world with my warmest recommendations.” —Skriv for livet, Denmark
An Interview with Anne Cathrine Bomann: How to relate —Bookanista
“Bomann writes with penetrating insight and unexpected tenderness; creating a mesmerizing, thoughtful, and heartfelt read.” —Reviews by Chloe
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“The Canadian release of an international bestseller, it packs a lot of punch in its mere 154 pages. It’s beautifully produced with the outline of flowers introducing each new chapter and visually lush inside covers. The narrator’s voice is lovely, almost soothing, as they get set for retirement but embark on one last course of therapy with a new young patient named Agatha. It’s been published in 23 countries — this might be the universal pandemic read we all need.” —Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star
Test Kitchen: French Apple Cake from Agatha —All Lit Up
“Beautifully written, as you read Agatha’s story, the words takes you along the fragility of the characters of life, loneliness and hope through her journey, you won’t want to put the book down” —Plant Your Own Story
“This is a good read for the “Hygge” months, especially when we are further from friends and family than ever before. Agatha explores what it means to be lonely – but also what it means to find meaning and friendship at any age, and in any circumstance” —Lindsay Wincherauk, Driving in Reverse
“The book touches on the ability to make connections when the only thing you’ve ever known is loneliness. It explores human connection and the importance of connecting with others at any stage of life. That through friendship, we can heal and become more whole than we can alone.” —Sloane Reads
“Bomann skillfully offers a tale that highlights the irony and brutality of life. Imbuing professional expertise as a psychiatrist, Bomann bestows readers with a beautiful piece of fiction that is introspective and insightful.” —@shelf_ishly_lit (Instagram)
“A truly satisfying read.” —@danish_mustardreads (Instagram)
“In a mere 145 pages, Bomann manages to pack it all in. Hallelujah!” —@one.chapteratatime (Instagram)
“A heartwarming story about loneliness and connection.” —@reehreads (Instagram)
“A very interesting read about mental health issues, living with them, diagnoing them and handling them… A small but mighty book.” —@athenasbooksthoughtsandthings (Instagram)
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“This slim debut novel by a Danish psychologist is an utter delight… The book is by turns poignant, funny and sad, as the doctor contemplates the twilight of his life and realizes he’s spent innumerable hours helping patients with their dark thoughts, but has never considered his own unhappiness.” —Kim Honey, Zoomer Magazine
Anne Cathrine Bomann lives in Copenhagen, where she divides her time between writing and working as a psychologist. She also played table tennis for Denmark and won the national championship twelve times. Agatha is her debut novel, following two poetry collections. First published in Denmark, it became a word-of-mouth success and has now been translated into twenty-three languages.
Caroline Waight is an award-winning literary translator working from Danish and German. Recent publications include The Invention of Ana, The Chestnut Man, and The Gravediggers, forthcoming from Profile in 2020.