Kristin Lavransdatter – The Wife – by Sigrid Undset

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

Translated by Tina Nunnally

Penguin Classic, New York, 2005

Bought used at local bookstore.

I am reading this 1100+ page novel as part of a read-along organized by Emily and Richard.  There are many others joining us.

So, The Wife was certainly better than The Wreath but I’m still having a hard time writing about this book.  I am enjoying the historic elements, political intrigue and depictions of daily life but I am having a really hard time with the Church and with Kristin’s religious beliefs.

Her guilt and angst-ridden brooding are making me nauseous. I get angry every time I read of Kristin’s “sin” and of the church’s perceptions of sin, and on top of that there are Kristin’s  heart-rending feelings for her Father, and her Husband and her Sons.  And even when she is “forgiven” by the church she continues to suffer, on and on.  Is this an accurate depiction of a characters “dark night of the soul” or is it the author dealing with her own demons?  I often find myself reading, even enjoying what I’m reading, when suddenly, oh no, there she is again, deathly pale and weeping.

Enough, I really am enjoying parts of this trilogy and will finish the final section in the next couple of weeks.  I also have to congratulate any other participants in this read-along who manage to put up with the melodramatic soap-opera.  These readers include:

Amy at New Century Reading

Claire at kiss a cloud

Emily at evening all afternoon

Jill at Rhapsody in Books

Lena at Save Ophelia

Richard at Caravana de recuerdos

Sarah at what we have here is a failure to communicate

softdrink at Fizzy Thoughts

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10 Comments

Filed under Historical Fiction, NobelPrize, Read-Along

10 responses to “Kristin Lavransdatter – The Wife – by Sigrid Undset

  1. I actually liked The Wreath more than The Wife. There was less weeping!

  2. I’m glad other people are enjoying this more than I am, Gavin. Not really into this whole Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman-set-in-medieval-Norway thing, and all that endless crying (spiritually-motivated or not) isn’t helping!

  3. I often find myself reading, even enjoying what I’m reading, when suddenly, oh no, there she is again, deathly pale and weeping.

    This line encapsulates my experience in a nutshell! It seems like your reaction was the closest to mine I’ve come across – second book was better than the first, but still not fantastic, and marred by weeping and guilt. I also agree that the political intrigue was one of the most interesting parts.

    Also, the snow on your site freaked me out until I realized I wasn’t imagining it! :-D

    • Emily – I’m really torn by K.L. I’m finding some interesting bits and am also wondering if there might be some other fiction about this time period that is less over-wrought. I actually think I would enjoy it.

      I’m not sure where the snow came from! I think it is something special WordPress does for the holiday season!

  4. You’ve summed up a lot of people’s feelings here. The words “melodrama” and “soap opera” have certainly been tossed around quite a bit.

    Something else I’ve noticed: despite having seven difficult births in primitive medical conditions, Kristin is STILL youthful and beautiful? For real?

  5. I found part I to be better than Part II and am really hoping that Part III improves for me!

    At least I get a good idea of what the Church must have been like back in those days — I get the impression that religion was not very much fun for a lot of people back then!

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