The Structure


To begin with some numbers, the book consists out of 3 volumes (An Empty Face, Perfect Love, Lotte) and 7 parts (Good Sense, Making Acquaintance, Wind and Fire, Hope and Memory, No Leap No Life, Lust of the Mind, and The Lesser Behind the Greater) . The first volume contains 3 parts, the second and third each 2 parts. Coincidentally the three volumes are of very similar size word-wise (within 4% of the average volume word-number).

After my final rereading the parts i, ii and iii of Volume 1 add up to 51.874 words (March 31, 2006). Part i, ii and iii have 23, 16 and 26 sections respectively, which makes for a grand total of 65 sections for the first volume.

Luisa, a Trilogy

I didn't set out to write 'a trilogy', it just made sense. Although not rigidly upheld, the book can be seen as describing a metamorphose of a young man called W., who turns form self-centered (volume 1), to passionate (2) to compassionate (3). Towards the end of the first volume he falls in love, in the second he is very much in love (it i about to slip through his fingers), and in the third volume he has to come to terms with the situation.

A Letter-Novel

The love-story is told through letters. W. writes letters to Anna, a friend, and, starting from part iii, also to Luisa. Anna doesn't write back (if she does we don't know about it), but Luisa does, and in the third volume her letters are presented in full. Each letter is a so-called section, and the sections are numbered continuously. For each volume the numbering starts again at 1. The second and third layer of the book (see below, The Luisa Layers), are also presented as sections, and are continuously numbered along with the letters. They are presented at regular 'intervals' between the letters.


The book starts in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. But the first letter, describing also his bus trip from Tallinn to the Netherlands, is written in Utrecht. But the main location, for the first two volumes, is Swansea, Wales, U.K., where W. (and Luisa) attends University. There is an additioal trip to NYC in the first volume, but the second volume is entirely written from Swansea. In the third volume W. moves to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He then also travels to Italy, Wales, and Scotland. From Scotland he travels to Tallinn again, where the book ends.


The duration of the volume's story is exactly two years. The book is, however, not taking place in a certain year. I actually tried to remove as many references to the period as I could (taking out some comments concering a certain Amercian election for example), but technology and some world events still leave their imprint. There is no iPod in the book.

The Luisa Layers

The main layer is the love story between W. and Luisa. From how they meet, how they fall in love, how their separation (because of Luisa's inability to tell her 'former' boyfriend about W.) threatens to tear this love apart, and how W. finally has to accept this.

The second layer has to do with W.'s search for a definition of ignorance. This is build up through descriptions of W.'s encounters with Mayoo, a beautiful girl from the country side with little knowledge of city life. This situation is the turn around in the story. No wait, sorry. Through descriptions of W.'s encounters with women. From Laura to Lisa to Lorraine to Linda. From boyish love to having sex. From innocent joy to causing hurt. W.'s asks himself whether the hurting others can be prevented. For this, he argues, he has to overcome ignorance. But what is ignorance? W. is still in search of this definition when meeting Luisa.

The third layer concernsh Ares, God of War, the self-centered voice in man, as described here. Ares has his own quest. To free himself from man so that he can return to the Olympus. To solve his riddle he must be able to name his equal, the voice in woman. He recognizes this voice first when he hears Luisa laugh in Berlin. With Luisa unhappy in her relationship with Albert, she doesn't laugh again. When Luisa appears to be about to fall in love with W., Ares helps the couple coming together, and all he has to do now is await his chance. But when W. and Luisa are separated, Ares sees his best opportunity to name woman's voice put in peril. Where Ares wants to 'conquer' Luisa, W. tries patience, and thus tries to overcome the Ares in him. When Luisa returns to Swansea, just before W. leaves for Amsterdam, Ares has an opportunity to solve his riddle.