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Ida Elisabeth: A Novel Paperback – September 15, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Undset is a realist in the truest sense of the word. She sees the real world in which people face the bitter consequences of selfish choices and in which suffering is unavoidable and yet potentially redemptive. In her acclaimed historical fiction, Undset shows us that the acceptance of suffering is the beginning of wisdom and also, paradoxically, the path to peace and lasting joy. ---Joseph Pearce, Author, The Quest for Shakespeare

Undset's skillfully crafted novel explores with devastating simplicity and realism the quiet, hidden heartbreak experienced by a woman living with the consequences of a loveless marriage. The heroine's journey takes place within the evocative landscape of 1930s Norway but in many ways, it is a timeless portrait of the loneliness and guilt suffered by so many men and women when marriages break down. It will ring true with contemporary readers living at a time where marriage is so little appreciated and supported by society. ---Fiorella de Maria, Author, Poor Banished Children
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 425 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press; Reprint edition (September 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158617424X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586174248
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #529,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a fan of Sigrid Undset's works, I was very happy to see that Ignatius Press is reprinting some of her lesser-known novels. I hope to see more from them in the future. Undset is a Catholic writer in every sense of the word - her appeal is universal but the subtle themes of faith echo throughout her works. Ida Elisabeth is considerably less epic in scale than Kristin Lavransdatter or Olav Audunsson, but no less enjoyable for all that.

Like Undset's more famous heroine, Ida Elisabeth is another woman who finds herself paying the price for romantic recklessness in her youth. After her reputation is damaged by the discovery of her sexual escapades with the feckless Frithjof, she feels that he is her inevitable destiny - for better or for worse. His total inability to hold down any decent job for a significant amount of time forces Ida Elisabeth into the role of breadwinner. It can be a bit jarring to read the novel and realize how rapidly things have changed in the past century - in the 19th century Norway, a woman who worked to provide for the household was totally unnatural and reflected badly on her husband. As in all Undset's novels, no character is entirely sympathetic. Frithjof is amazingly immature, but as lovable as the overgrown child he is. Ida Elisabeth is as hard-working as her husband is lazy, but she seems to lack a backbone. The modern woman in me wanted to scream at the way Ida Elisabeth permits herself to be taken advantage of by her cheerfully callous in-laws. They are very true to life - how many of us know people who happily railroad everyone else around them, blissfully unaware of how grossly selfish they are.

But Undset clearly intends that we not mistake her kindness for weakness.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The lessons learned and the mistakes made by the main character are of the kind that grip half the air in your chest and hold on to it; the writing is great! I'm about to circle my way back to the book with a fresh cup of coffee to nestle in and read it's last pages. I may be reading Ida Elisabeth again.
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Format: Paperback
I can't tell whether there is a resurgence of appreciation for this great writer or just a group of true readers capable of recognizing a true craftsman. As I cited in a bad review of the book, here is an example of how Undset renders her imagined world of her protagonist:
". . . the grey light of a summer evening. She could feel a rain coming. . . . Between the trees and little houses she could glimpse the sea with the reflected light on the water beyond the pier. The air was laden with the smell of the beach and of the hay which hung drying on the slopes. There was the chuck-chuck of a motor out in the creek and some people were talking and laughing down in the road--and a tiny lamp was lighted behind a blind above the bank. The square of warm, subdued orange light seemed listening silently to all the faint and varied sounds that gave life to the evening."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel kept my interest throughout. I admire the lead character for her courageous decision. Thank goodness times have changed and men and women no longer need to make a lifetime decision based on one imprudent act!
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Her descriptive powers are rare, so genuine...Unset's voice is barely audible behind the gorgeous prose. Like having a angel describe the scene, the setting, and all of the nuances...this is a tale of ordinary life made extraordinary by bitter circumstance. The translator also deserves an Oscar!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Undset is a master storyteller, an accomplished writer and a developer of character like no one else. Our Book Club discussed this one for hours and we could have gone on much longer! Find in here the drama of family, of mental capabilities, the sorrows and faithfulness of marriage, and above all the complexity of motherhood. The Nobel prize winner does not disappoint.
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