I need to begin this blog post with an apology. I had intended to share my evening in with Maria Bouroncle on Saturday 17th September to tie in with the anniversary of the death of Ingeborg Andersson, the subject of the book I’m hearing about from Maria. Sadly I was hit with a migraine that knocked me out on the Friday and I simply didn’t manage to set it up before a busy weekend. However, we are finally staying in together today, albeit a week late!
Staying in with Maria Bouroncle
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Maria and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Thank you so much for inviting me Linda!
I’m so sorry I’m a week late!
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why?
I’ve brought along my debut novel It Came to Me on a Whim – The Story of Ingeborg Andersson, Child Murderess, which is based on real events. I’m very excited to share it with you since it was recently published in English.
Oh congratulations. What can we expect from an evening with It Came to Me on a Whim?
It Came to Me on a Whim tells the story of my great-aunt who killed her three children in a small Swedish village in March 1929.
Crikey. And you say it is based on real events. Tell me more.
The story and what happened that day was a well-kept family secret for seventy years. I stumbled upon it back in 1999, as one of my cousin’s patients asked if we were related to “that old murderess Ingeborg”. We both knew her very well as children, since Ingeborg lived with our grand-mother, but we had no idea she had been married or had any children, let alone three.
Good heavens. What a revelation.
I was 34 years old at the time and had just given birth to my daughter. I simply couldn’t grasp the news and it wasn’t until my father passed away twelve years later, that my thoughts of Ingeborg resurfaced. I finally decided to ask my relatives what happened, and I began digging through the archives.
That must have been equally fascinating and slightly unnerving. Who was Ingeborg?
Ingeborg was born in 1901. Her parents were farmers, and she was the second to youngest of seven siblings. She went to primary school for six years and when she was 23 years old, she got married to the boy next door, who was a relatively well-to-do farmer. Artur was seven years her senior and seems to have been a modern, kind and helpful man. Pretty soon after their beautiful wedding, they had three children together, two boys, and one girl. But Tor only lived to be five years old. Efraim was three and Lucia was only one year old when their mother killed them.
She must have been a very troubled woman. How on earth did you manage to write about it all?
I’ve tried to capture this troubling story without too many gruesome details. By letting my narrative jump back and forth between different time periods, as Ingeborg’s thoughts probably did, I hope to put the reader inside her mind in order to try and understand her. Despite the rigid structures of the prison, I also wanted to show the kindness of the staff who cared for her.
I’m absolutely mesmerised by the thought of It Came to Me on a Whim Maria. How has the book been received?
As Manil Suri, author of bestseller The Death of Vishnu, puts it: “Maria Bouroncle takes us deep into a story of real-life murder to show us the humanity – even love – behind the crime. A riveting read – haunting, atmospheric, and ultimately, heart-breaking”.
I have a feeling I’m going to need to read It Came to Me on a Whim very soon! Whilst I contemplate what it must feel like to have a murderer in your family, tell me what else have you brought along and why have you brought it?
It was never my intention to write a book about Ingeborg. However, after years of research to shed light on the tragedy and trying to understand how a woman I’d loved as a child could have committed such a horrific crime, I got truly obsessed with the story. Although, it wasn’t until an old relative passed me the letters she wrote to her husband from prison that I knew I had to put her words on paper. I’ve included these letters in my book and I’ve brought one of them with me today.
What an absolute privilege to see Ingeborg’s handwriting Maria.
After the murders, Ingeborg is taken into custody and the reader follows her journey through court, prison and ultimately, a mental facility. When asked why she killed her children, she simply replies: “It Came to me on a Whim”. Throughout the story, she fights for forgiveness and refuses to lose the love of her life. In one of her first letters to Artur, she writes:
I think about the children all the time and about you but forgive me I didn’t know what I was doing O God if it could be undone.
Will her husband ever answer her prayers and take her back?
Obviously we have to feel sorry for Ingeborg’s children but she must have been a very unwell woman. I’m sure her life would have been very different had she lived in a more supportive and enlightened time.
Ingeborg died on September 17, 1978 at the age of 77. I was 13 years old and had just started high school. I have dedicated my book to her children Tor, Efraim and Lucia, my mother’s cousins. It’s my sincere hope Ingeborg’s story will bring mental health issues into the light.
I’m absolutely mesmerised by what you’ve told me about It Came to Me on a Whim Maria and by Ingeborg’s story. Thank you so much for staying in with me to chat all about it. Let me give Linda’s Book Bag Readers a few more details as I think they are going to be intrigued too:
It Came to Me on a Whim
Set in Western Sweden on a cold Easter morning in 1929, Artur leaves his wife and three children alone for a few hours to go fetch firewood in the forest. When he returns, his world has collapsed.
Suddenly it struck him: the windows had not fogged up as they usually did in the winter when his wife hung up the laundry inside. There was a sour smell and the house was unusually quiet.
“Where are the children?” he asked, receiving no answer.
On opening the door to the bedroom, Artur saw the large, round copper washtub sitting just inside. It was half full of water, and the rest had spilled out onto the floor. The water left in the tub contained traces of vomit.
The story about Ingeborg Andersson was hidden from the world for almost a century. The family drama is now being retold by Ingeborg’s grand-niece, Maria Bouroncle. A compelling and horrifying tale that will grip true-crime fans as Maria’s extensive research and tireless investigation slowly sheds light on her family’s tragedy.
Published by Saga Egmont International in ebook on 19th July 2022, the paperback edition will be available in October. It Came to Me on a Whim is available for purchase on Amazon and from Barnes and Noble.
About Maria Bouroncle
Maria is a Swedish author. An economist by profession, she spent over 25 years in the field of international development before publishing her first novel in 2018. It Came to Me on a Whim has been translated into several languages and is currently used on the Scandinavian Crime Literature course at UCLA – University of California in Los Angeles.
The book was inspiration for the short documentary film “The Child Murderess of Vesene” by director Carl Eneroth, which has won numerous prizes, including “Best Documentary Short” in January 2021 at the London Indie Film Festival of 24 Frames.
Maria lives in Washington, DC.