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Kristin, I can't stop thinking about you
on January 13, 2008
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.