Amazon.com has an online book club, and they’re currently reading the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy by Sigrid Unset. I read the first one last fall, and am looking forward to books 2 and 3.
I fell in love with Kristin, and so did translator Tiina Nunnally, who writes for Amazon:
From the very beginning it’s clear that Kristin is an unusual child filled with deep passions and great determination. We know that her life is going to be complicated and tumultuous, even in those early scenes up in the mountains with her father. Kristin looks out over the valley and realizes that she had never imagined “that the world was so huge or so vast.” Her family and the Church have planned a life for her that is clearly too narrow and constricting for a girl with such intense longings and desires. But the author doesn’t let her off easy. Kristin has to pay the consequences for the decisions that she makes — and for the hurt that she causes to other people, especially her father.
Sigrid Undset’s power as a storyteller lies in her ability to understand and portray the human heart, in all its throes and passions. I think she is equally skilled at depicting the setting for the human drama of her stories. This was a result of her personal background (she was the daughter of a famed archaeologist who introduced her to the Nordic sagas and Norwegian history) and her willingness to do a great deal of research in order to immerse herself in the daily life of the period. Fourteenth-century Norway, with all its daily chores and travails, becomes as real to the reader as it was to the author. And the mountains and valleys of Norway have never been so beautifully described.
I do fear that I won’t love married Kristin the way I loved Kristin the headstrong girl. The teenage years are such a tumultuous time, inherently dramatic, with stakes as high as they come–especially for a medieval girl tempted to stray from the morals her parents tried to instill in her. Nunnally’s words tell me that I can trust Unset to keep Kristin alive as she grows up, and I can’t wait to see what becomes of my dear girl.
Another work read this week was a novel for older children by a lion of YA/children’s literature. It’s always good to remember that children’s literature doesn’t have to be dumb or simple–something I forget when I’m assigned to read a slew of popcorn reading.