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Kristin Lavransdatter: The Bridal Wreath; The Mistress of Husaby; The Cross Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1070 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (June 27, 1951)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394432622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394432625
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.6 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #563,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"We consider it the best book our judges have ever selected and it has been better received by our subscribers than any other book," says the Book-of-the-Month Club.

From the Inside Flap

"The finest historical novel our 20th century has yet produced; indeed it dwarfs most of the fiction of any kind that Europe has produced in the last twenty years."

-- Contemporary Movements in European Literature, edited by William Rose and J. Isaacs

"As a novel it must be ranked with the greatest the world knows today." -- Montreal Star

"Sigrid Undset's trilogy embodies more of life, seen understandingly and seriously... than any novel since Dostoievsky's Brothers Karamazov. It is also very probably the noblest work of fiction ever to have been inspired by the Catholic art of life." -- Commonweal

"No other novelist, past or present, has bodied forth the medieval world with such richness and fullness of indisputable genius.... One of the finest minds in European literature."

-- New York Herald Tribune

"This trilogy is the first great story founded upon the normal events of a normal woman's existence. It is as great and as rich, as simple and as profound, as such a story should be."

-- Ruth Suckow in the Des Moines Register

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Beautifully written, this series turns one life into an epic.
Kellyannl
Kristin Lavransdatter is a long and leisurely read, but it is book that will remain with the reader long after the last page has been turned.
DarwenM
I've purchased this book 2 years ago, and 9 years have passed since I first read it.
oamaz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Darryl B. Hopkins on January 13, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kristin Lavransdatter is the biggest literary surprise that ever engulfed me, as I read its 1,168 pages in three weeks on the subway, airplanes, theater auditoriums, nature trails, and anywhere else I could sneak in a few pages, the better to channel my way into Kristin's compelling, meticulously created and true-to-life world.

This story starts slowly, like a locomotive, but by the end it builds a staggering, devastating momentum that still swirls in my mind, months after finishing the novel for the second time.

If you like treason, torture, betrayal, drunken assaults, bar fights, sword fights, political intrigue, charging bears, brothels, plague, poison, suicide, damsels in distress, black magic, and human sacrifice, you'll find it in these pages.

And if you like stories of spiritual quests, coming of age and reflections from age, the bonds between fathers and daughters, and of mothers and sons, platonic love, unrequited love, doomed love, the joys of children, the inextinguishable anguish of burying children, the circle of life that never stops turning, and the most tender, heartbreaking passages I've ever read of the love between a mother and her child, you'll find even more of it in Kristin's life story.

And to all the smug reviewers who chastise Kristin and wish they could have just slapped some sense into her, I say this: can you really imagine that Kristin could have led her life any other way? My answer is this:

"All that happened and would happen was meant to be. Everything happens as it is meant to be." (p. 289, "The Cross")

Kristin is not a saint, but neither is she a cautionary tale. As long as we humans can love and live, we will love well, love madly and sometimes love foolishly, and we'll tell stories about it. And this story of Kristin is for me the truest love story ever told, and I will never forget her.
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158 of 165 people found the following review helpful By L.L. Barkat on September 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read this as a book-club selection, and I'm so glad I did. Under different circumstances, I might have avoided the title, because of its size and the seemingly dry first page (it starts with a lineage and a history of the family's geographical locations).

Well. Thank heavens for book clubs. Because this is a book I will read again, and I rank it right up there with Marquez's Hundred Years of Solitude.

Undset follows the life of one woman, Kristin Lavransdatter, from childhood to death. The handling of the various season's of Kristin's life are pure genius. Undset captures the qualities of each stage, without being trite or predictable. I think this is why I often felt as if I were inside the mind and heart of Kristin, even though our surface circumstances are wildly different.

Here's an example of a scene that absolutely made me weep, because I could relate to that fearful time of life when one looks at one's parents and realizes they won't always be here. The poignant moment takes place in a "hollow between small hills," as Kristin departs from her father.

"Kristin...ran her fingers over his clothing and his hand and his saddle, and along the neck and flank of his horse; she pressed her head here and there..." (p.544)

The desperation, the sense of wanting to touch and touch again that which is about to slip through one's fingers... how beautifully Undset captures that.

And, how beautifully she also captures so many other moments--of passion and betrayal, of forgiveness and unforgiveness, of acceptance and denial, of longing and loss.

I wish I had a few weeks to hide away in my room... I would pick this up again without pause. Nevertheless, the characters are still with me, calling me to a reflection and deep feeling I haven't experienced in quite some time.
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Constance M. Gotsch on October 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Many novels set in the Middle Ages happen to have a few people and a few human values in them. Authors dwell upon the trappings of the times, ensnaring their characters in endless descriptions of clothing and castles, until the stories read like a 6th Grade history text, in which a child hero takes the reader through the facts and figures of the era by recreating A Day in the Life of A Knight. Or a Monk. Or a Serf.

Then, there's Sigrid Undsett's `Kristin Lavransdatter,' written in the 1920s and winner of a Nobel Prize for Literature. This novel contains strong people with real attitudes, who happen to live in 14th Century Norway. Universal themes create a link between the Medieval era and modern times, the same way the motifs of `Romeo and Juliet,' or `Othello' link the Renaissance to the 21st Century.

The epic story (over 1100 pages) focuses on Kristin, the strong-willed and somewhat spoiled daughter of the knight, Lavran. Intelligent but impetuous, Kristin struggles through her teenage years, breaks an engagement to the embarrassment of her parents, and marries Erland, a man of whom they disapprove.

Kristin and Erland have a rocky, but at the same time joyous marriage. In some ways, he is a disappointing husband. He is a passionate lover, but cannot manage money or land, and has no common sense about people. Forced to become the brains of the family, Kristin constantly struggles between keeping her place as a woman, and managing finances and fields.

As her children grow up, Erland gets on the wrong side of national politics and plunges the family into poverty. She copes. Eventually he dies in a fight. She becomes a nun. .
Read more ›
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