THE LAUREATE: Sigrid Undset was born in Denmark and moved to Norway when she was 2. Her father was an antiquities professor in Oslo until his early death, which gave Sigrid her first association with medieval life. She was also influenced by Njal’s Saga, which is awesome. She wrote enough that she made a living on royalties and a stipend from the Norwegian government, and even had enough money to support orphaned children in Finland (after selling her Nobel plaque). She was the first non-royal woman to receive the highest award Norway gives (whose name I forgot).
WHAT ARE YOU READING?: The first book of her Kristin Lavransdatter books, The Wreath
REVIEW: I was surprised at how much I liked this. I don’t know how much of it is the work of the translator I read, but it was rather pleasant. I could say a lot about historical fiction and accepting the premises of medievalism in your writing, but I’ll skip it and say that I will gladly read any of her other work I come across. The story itself is about a young woman who is betrothed and falls in love with another man. Although I am only familiar with the saga age in Scandinavia, I didn’t come across anything egregiously awful to distract me from what was happening. I was firmly pushed into the “digging this” camp at the end of the book, where there is a bit of saga-esque legal finagling.
DO YOU RECOMMEND?: Yes. Good historical fiction is hard to come by.
WHAT’S NEXT?: Knut Hamsun’s Hunger, and then…ANIARA: A SURVEY OF MAN IN TIME AND SPACE