I picked this up off the "new books" shelf at the library, knowing nothing about it. I liked the cover and the reviews on the back made it sound enthralling and spooky, atmospheric and insular. Well, it certainly was atmospheric and insular, taking place at a remote women's rest home in 1920s Finland during the winter. The snow, the darkness, the repetitive bland food, and little news of the outside world all made me feel claustrophobic. The story focuses on several women and one particular nurse (an American named Sunny), who are all really there to escape their outside lives. They occupy the "up-ward," where the wealthy women with vague physical complaints can pay to stay and be treated like invalids. The remoteness and the boredom lead to dysfunctional relationships and unhappiness. Nevertheless, the women want to protect what they have and when a new doctor arrives with plans to turn the place into a maternity ward, they band together despite their differences. The writing is detailed and evocative and the setting is very interesting, but somehow I just didn't care much for the book. I kept reading, thinking there was going to be a big climax, but I'm still not even sure exactly what happened, which was unsatisfying and a little irritating. I also didn't care for any of the characters, except maybe Laimi. I wish the author had elaborated more on the relationship between Laimi & Sunny. On the whole, I wouldn't recommend it unless you are interested in the time and place.