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Showing 1-10 of 167 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 241 reviews
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.
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on March 31, 2016
This is a compelling fictional insight into Medieval Norway. The prose is straightforward and readable (kudos to translator as much as Undset) and though it starts a little slow, the dramatic momentum builds nicely. Beautifully depicted imagery is almost like flipping through a coffee-table-book of capricious climates, dramatic vistas, and verdant pastures. What I found most interesting, though, is that what it lacks in the psychologizing interior life of the modern novel (think Dostoevsky or Woolf) it more than makes up for in its intricate descriptions of actions, social relationships, and religious, geographic, and character limitations that are our fuel for angst, intrigue, and insight.
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on March 15, 2015
This trilogy is a multilayered intricate novel to savor in order to fully appreciate the complexity and richness of the landscape and characters.
There are no real evil occurrences in the story, only characters with true conflicting emotions, frailties and self reflections on their part in a dire political and religious and stark landscape. One of my favorite quotes of this book seems to reflect this: " Many a man is given what is intended for another, but no one is given another man's fate".

The author uses many flashbacks ( which took me awhile to adjust to ) to aid in the narrative. There were also very few moments of levity to distract from the rather dark atmosphere of the story. The politics of the Scandinavian countries was unfamiliar to me but eventually the relevance to part of the storyline is revealed. While the book did have strong Christian themes, ( as the Christian religion had only recently taken hold in the region ), it did not distract me from the overall enjoyment but only added to the brilliance of the book.

This book is easily one of my now favorite books and one to be read and reread over the course of time. I only wish I had discovered it years ago. " Kristin Lavransdatter " was a fully engrossing novel that should appeal to readers of " The Heaven Tree " trilogy and to a lesser degree, Anya Seton's " Katherine ".
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VINE VOICEon April 18, 2016
Why do readers keep flocking to this book? Because at its heart it’s a book about a woman, and the story of a marriage. The observations about the human condition are timeless, you could change the names and setting and the story would be just as relatable. Everyone can understand the feelings of a young couple newly in love/lust (When I married you I thought every day would be Christmas), the hopes and fears of parents for their children, and (unfortunately) the gradual unraveling of a marriage after years of bickering and resentments.

I think the one thing modern readers like myself will never fully understand is Kristin’s marrow-deep Catholic guilt over the sin she committed as a teenager, by sleeping with her husband and becoming pregnant before they married. Kristin stews about this her entire life.

The descriptions of life and customs in the Medieval period are fascinating, I’m sure they are what won the author the Nobel Prize for literature in 1928. I read a previous translation, but this new one by Tiina Nunnally is superior in every way, it captures the beauty of Undset’s prose and makes the mountains and fjords of Norway come alive.
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on March 6, 2015
I won't both to talk about how great this novel is. It deserves all the praise it has received down the decades.

I will say that both Penguin and Amazon should be embarrassed by the Kindle edition. It is all to obvious that no one proof-read the text after it was ported over from the files that created the print edition. Word are incomplete. Letters are missing. You can figure out what should be there and still enjoy the book—but you should not have to.

So, the stars are for Undset's work. I would give the translator 3 or four stars, since there are some instances of an awkwardness that results from either not understanding distinctions that were important to medieval people—such as the difference between monks and friars—or because a construction that works perfectly in Norwegian and more or less makes sense in English is not replaced with a real, graceful English sentence. And to the Kindle edition I would give one or two stars. The text is there. There aren't junk characters. But some things are garbled due to missing characters. A publisher should really do more than that to get even one star—and Penguin and Amazon has the resources to do much more. (Since this is a Kindle edition, not an eBook that can be read on a number of platforms, I do think Amazon bears some of the blame.)
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on June 12, 2015
Buy this book! Read this book! Whatever one's modern political orientation this book presents the antidote for our modern morally poisoned times. See what an amazingly well ordered social structure where true charity abounds looks like, where rich and poor worked together, loved each other, took care of, and served each other. A society that created and fairly disbursed wealth without government interference, and in which Christianity worked towards human perfection against the forces of fallen man.See how forgiveness and civility helped society overcome temptation, and dealt with the inevitable lapses. Experience the benefice of a Christian Monarchy and the Church. Follow the life of a beautiful protagonist who struggles with and finally overcomes and conquers her youthful mistakes in love by her love of God. This is a masterpiece!
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on July 17, 2016
I read a lot of historical fiction.This trilogy was recommended to me as the author won a Nobel prize for literature. It is well written and a very detailed and accurate portrayal of daily life in the Middle Ages in Norway. However, it is rather slow-paced, especially in the beginning. I eventually did become invested in the main character, however. Enough to read to the end of the trilogy, but I think most modern day readers would find it too slow-moving. Also, the historical accuracy with regards to character names may be confusing for English-speaking readers.
I should also like to add that, along with some other reviewers, I found the predilection of the main character to obsessively expound on how guilty she feels for past sins became tedious.
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on May 6, 2016
An exceptional book of historical fiction that depicts a women's life from childhood to marriage and family to old age. A beautifully written book with such detail of exposition with keen observations of human behavior that were moving and relate to our time a century later. The picture of 14th century Norway reveals historical and political life but also personal relationships,social customs, class relationships and the role of religion and religious organizations during the period. Although lengthy, this version is more than worth the effort to read all three books included that cover Kristin's life story.
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on January 13, 2017
I read this book in the early sixties in German. I think it was just the first book, called The Wreath. It was the first printing German from 1928 or thereabouts. The book totally drew me in. I read it on the bus, during lunch and in the evenings at home. Later, in the US, I got the other two books from the library. I always wanted to purchase the entire trilogy for myself, and I am glad I did. I find the book just as interesting as I did many years ago, and I think the reason is that the characters are so well developed and very real.
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on September 4, 2016
First read this 42 years ago at the recommendation of a guy I had just met, now my husband. Now reading it again and loving it even more. This a book that you can't put down, and that you'll never forget.
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