Bella Gunness is the first serial killer in history. Born Brynhild Storset in 1859 into a modest Norwegian family, she became a farm girl before emigrating to America where she murdered more than forty people, mostly men. It is her incredible destiny that is at the heart of Victoria Kielland’s novel: that of a woman whose class injustices, quest for absolute love and religious austerity lead her to murderous madness. From Chicago at the end of the 19th century to Indiana, she lures and then kills her husbands, her own children, her farm boys and other young Scandinavians who have just arrived in the United States and whom she seduces through classified ads.
In a chiseled, carnal text with beautiful poetic outbursts, the author becomes one with Belle’s torments, her erotic appetite, her insatiable need to be loved, the weight of Lutheran guilt that pursues her to this new country where she, like so many others, hopes to reinvent herself.