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Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath by…

Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath (1920)

by Sigrid Undset

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Kristin Lavransdatter (1)

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1,157267,029 (4.06)91



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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Very disappointing. Writing is poor, wooden, arid, made of very short phrases, and lots and loooots of descriptions. Dialogue occurred only on page 12 (one phrase!) then restarted on page 16. While I do not think a book is only good if it has lots of dialogue, descriptions should draw the reader and enchant him, yet Undset did not. They should convey the beauty with beauty in them--it is my humble opinion. Undset does not write anything near that. Dropped the book after a few pages. ( )
  MrsRK | Nov 21, 2016 |
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started it, but the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy is one I enjoyed deeply, continue to think about, and will probably revisit. The story of Kristin's life, set in 14th century Norway, is sweeping and at times thrilling, while also offering (very well researched) glimpses of what day-to-day life in medieval Norway might have been like. Although it is set in a time and place that may seem far removed from modern life, Undset's novels present extremely relatable characters and provide insights on life and particularly motherhood that ring so true as to be startling.

This first novel in the series, The Wreath, is probably the easiest to get into. We meet Kristin as a very young girl, happily living on her wealthy parents' estate. Kristin runs into trouble as she approaches marriageable age and ends up being sent to an abbey in Oslo. It is there that she meets and falls in love with Erlend Nikulaussøn, a handsome but headstrong man. The rest of the novel deals with their struggle to be allowed to marry. Kristin's determination to choose her own path is at odds with her earnest desire to do right by her family.

Many reviews to be found online of the Kristin Lavransdatter novels describe them as Catholic literature or specifically recommend them as fiction that jives with Christian teachings. That may be true, but as a non-religious reader I wanted to say here that you don't have to be religious to find things to love about Undset's opus. I found the novels to be subtle and more generally spiritual then specifically Catholic. Sure, Kristin's struggles with her faith are sometimes specific to (14th century) Catholicism, but I think they also have a lot to do with deciding how much her family and community and their expectations should play into her decisions. I would recommend these novels to anyone, not just those looking for religious enlightenment. ( )
  k8_not_kate | Oct 26, 2016 |
This is the first third of the Kristin Lavransdatter saga, which earned Undset a Nobel prize. Kristin is the older daughter of Lavrans, a well respected landowner in medieval Norway. Her childhood and coming-of-age are interwoven with the religious, social and every-day history of her time. Undset clearly knows each of her characters intimately—there’s a sense of reality to even the background characters. I’ve always thought the religious prohibition against premarital sex is ridiculous, but nevertheless Undset made me deeply feel the angst and torment of Kristin and her family in regards to that subject. It's an excellent novel, but I’ve been advised not to read the subsequent parts, as apparently it gets even darker. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
reading notes

Kristin Lavransdatter: Book 1 (1920-1922)
The Wreath

by Sigrid Undset

The daily aspects of family life in Norway during the 14th century are captured in Undset's trilogy.
Social, political and religious elements are interwoven into daily life with "Norse sagas, folklore and Old Norse legends" throughout.

Book one chronicles Kristen as daughter.

304 pg
(includes suggestions for further reading and explanatory notes)

5* favorite

"Natural dialog...lyrical flow"
Tiina Nunnally translates memorable characters with ease and fluidity.
Looking forward to continuing the trilogy. ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 27, 2016 |
??1/2 rounded up to ???

Kristin Lavransdatter is a fourteenth century Norwegian girl, around whom the story centres, although there are scenes without her. We see her from seven through seventeen here. She is the pretty, well- loved daughter of Lavrans Bjørgulfson and Ragnfrid Ivarsdatter. At the beginning of the story she is the only one of their surviving children, but later two more girls are born. When she is fifteen she is betrothed by her father to a man of a good family, but since she has never left their valley, she goes to spend a year in a convent. There her roommate is the talkative and adventurous Ingabjørg, also betrothed who leads Kristin astray and on the path to meet Erland, a man she falls deeply and passionately in love with all the ardor of first teenage love, despite being betrothed.

I found it difficult going for much of the book, but began to like it better in the third section, so it moved from a two to two and half stars. I’m hoping that I’ll like the next one, The Wife, better. I found it difficult to care much for Kristin at first, and had wanted to like her very much. Throughout the book the prevailing beliefs of the middle ages including Roman Catholicism, pervade everything, and I suspect that the religious beliefs of Kristin will become a much stronger focal point as the trilogy progresses, although I’ll have to wait to find out.

If you like family sagas and if you like Undset’s style of writing, I think you’ll enjoy this more than I did.
( )
  Karin7 | Jan 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sigrid Undsetprimary authorall editionscalculated
Archer, CharlesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott, J. S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When the lands and goods of Ivar Gjesling the younger, of Sundbu, were divided after his death in 1306, his lands in Sil of Gudbrandsdal fell to his daughter Ragnfrid and her husband Lavrans Bjørgulfson.
Sigrid Unset clearly perceived the Middle Ages as her "own time." (Introduction)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141180412, Paperback)

In Kristin Lavransdatter (1920-1922), Sigrid Undset interweaves political, social, and religious history with the daily aspects of family life to create a colorful, richly detailed tapestry of Norway during the fourteenth-century. The trilogy, however, is more than a journey into the past. Undset's own life—her familiarity with Norse sagas and folklore and with a wide range of medieval literature, her experiences as a daughter, wife, and mother, and her deep religious faith—profoundly influenced her writing. Her grasp of the connections between past and present and of human nature itself, combined with the extraordinary quality of her writing, sets her works far above the genre of "historical novels." This new translation by Tina Nunnally—the first English version since Charles Archer's translation in the 1920s—captures Undset's strengths as a stylist. Nunnally, an award-winning translator, retains the natural dialog and lyrical flow of the original Norwegian, with its echoes of Old Norse legends, while deftly avoiding the stilted language and false archaisms of Archer's translation. In addition, she restores key passages left out of that edition.

Undset's ability to present a meticulously accurate historical portrait without sacrificing the poetry and narrative drive of masterful storytelling was particularly significant in her homeland. Granted independence in 1905 after five hundred years of foreign domination, Norway was eager to reclaim its national history and culture. Kristin Lavransdatter became a touchstone for Undset's contemporaries, and continues to be widely read by Norwegians today. In the more than 75 years since it was first published, it has also become a favorite throughout the world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:31 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Originally published in Norwegian in 1920 and set in fourteenth-century Norway, The Wreath chronicles the courtship of a headstrong and passionate young woman and a dangerously charming and impetuous man. Undset re-creates the historical backdrop in vivid detail, immersing readers in the day-to-day life, social conventions, and political undercurrents of the period. Her prose combines the sounds and style of Nordic ballads, European courtly poetry, and religious literature. But the story Undset tells is a modern one; it mirrors post-World War I political and religious anxieties, and introduces a heroine who has long captivated contemporary readers. Defying her parents and stubbornly pursuing her own happiness, Kristin emerges as a woman who not only loves with power and passion but intrepidly confronts her sexuality.… (more)

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