The Greenhouse
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The Greenhouse

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  1,143 ratings  ·  199 reviews
Young Lobbi was preparing to leave his childhood home, his autistic brother, his octogenarian father, and the familiar landscape of mossy lava fields for an unknown future. Soon before his departure, he received an awful phone call: his mother was in a car accident. She used her dying words to offer calm advice to her son, urging him to continue their shared work in the gr...more
Paperback, 262 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Amazon Publishing (first published 2007)
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I'm a little obsessed with Iceland. It's a gorgeous country and produces some amazing literature - Bragi Olafsson's The Pets ranks among my favorite books of all time - so I was thrilled when I came across Au∂ur Ava Olafsdottir's The Greenhouse; it's not every day that an English translation of a contemporary Icelandic literary title comes my way.

This is a quiet novel, written in a crisp and direct style - in that way it reminds me of Murakami, though the comparison ends there. Lobbi is a young...more
Nov 04, 2012 Barbarac rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: sylvia
I just read another review that mentioned this book was quiet. Exactly. This book is quiet. Part of it takes place in a monastery, and that's how this book is, simple and quiet.
It's the story of a young man leaving his country for the first time and leaving his father and twin autistic brother behind. His mom died a few years back and the family still seems to not have moved on.
Part of the book is the road trip to his destination, which is never mentioned by name. Neither is his country of ori...more
I read the Italian translation (nota al traduttore e all'editore: su "do" di "io do" l'accento NON ci va. Ma insomma, dove avete studiato??).
This is the story of the Icelandic Forrest Gump. He has a retarded brother, but he has some serious issues too. I disagree with many reviewers who see him as a real, regular, almost typical 22 yo man. Let's put it out there before anyone misses it: this guy is border-line autistic.
Things happen to him and to his body often as if he was watching them on a s...more
Re-read for new review, November 2012.

Reviewed for Iceland Review, December 10, 2012, here:


Part road novel, part bildungsroman, Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir’s The Greenhouse is a meditative story of love, death, fatherhood, and creating meaning in life even when it seems to be entirely dictated by chance. Published in English translation in 2011, it is the first of ten Icelandic novels that online retailer Amazon committed to publishing in the next year via...more
. Uma mãe que morre num acidente de automóvel;
. Um pai extremoso;
. Um rapaz autista;
. Uma menina - fruto de um fugaz encontro sexual - bela como um anjo e que faz milagres;
. Um jovem a caminho do mais belo jardim do mundo para lá cultivar uma rosa rara;
. Uma jovem dividida entre o amor e a carreira;
. Um monge apaixonado por cinema.
Envolve-se tudo; tempera-se com umas gotas de corante rosa; polvilha-se com alguma auto-ajuda. Serve-se morno, acompanhado de um pouco de fé.

Não gosto muito destes pet...more
J'ai adoré les deux premiers tiers de ce livre, alors que Arnljótur quitte l'Islande pour un genre de road trip vers l'âge adulte, plein de naiveté et d'authenticité. Le personnage est très attachant, drôle, souvent émouvant. J'ai beaucoup aimé sa vision du monde, et j'avais souvent envie de souligner certains extraits.

J'ai beaucoup aimé la dernière partie, mais pas aussi intensément. J'y ai trouvé certaines longueurs, et la fin a un petit coté légèrement Paulo Coelho. Mais je lui aurais donné...more
The Greenhouse is a surprisingly lovely little story, with as much left unsaid as said. A young man, someone who doesn't seem especially comfortable in his own skin, takes his love of gardening to a country new to him. And he has a daughter, conceived in a careless one-night, actually less than one night, stand. I couldn't help but cheer him on as he learns about love, relationships, being a father, all aided by a monk who has at least one film to recommend as answer to all of life's questions....more
Pamela Barrett
When 20 year old Arnljotor, or Lobbi as his father calls him, has a one night stand in his mother’s greenhouse, with a girl he barely knows, she gets pregnant. At the time, his life is unsettled; his mother has died, his elderly father wants him to pursue an advanced education degree, and his autistic brother is in an assisted living home. Lobbi loves working with plants and plans on traveling to a medieval monastery to help the monks bring their world renowned ancient garden back to its former...more
This book caught my eye for two main reasons. First, the title made me take my first look because I love all things gardening related. Then, the description of the book kept my attention because it described a story not only of the shared love of the title greenhouse between a son and his deceased mother, but it also told of the journey of the son to a remote monastery to restore its once fabulous gardens. Enough I am glad to have done it.

I would describe thi...more
Dec 22, 2011 Jim added it
Shelves: coming-of-age
There's a passage early on in Lord of the Rings where Frodo asks Sam, who has always wanted to meet Elves, what he thinks of them now that he's met them. Sam thinks for a moment and replies, "They're a bit above my likes and dislikes, if you know what I mean." That was pretty much how I felt when faced with the prospect of trying to settle on a star rating for The Greenhouse. I weighed everything from 2 up to 5, but none of them felt quite right for summing up this rewarding but flawed novel.

E' consolante sapere che dal Nord Europa non arrivano solo gialli e thriller, ma anche romanzi 'normali', diciamo. Detto questo, sono molto contenta di aver speso 89 centesimi (per la versione ARC - in traduzione inglese - di Amazon) piuttosto che 17 euro (o 9,99 nel caso della versione digitale) per la traduzione italiana. The Greenhouse (Rosa candida in italiano): è un libro piacevole ma avevo altre aspettative.

Arnljótur Thórir (soprannominato dal padre, grazie al cielo, Lobbi) è un ventiduenn...more
Why are readers drawn to certain books? The answers vary among readers. For me, my interest began with Stieg Larsson's novels, Scandinavian Authors and the Translators. When "The Greenhouse" came under my radar it was a must read. My other Scandinavian Authors wrote in the Mystery Genre, and this was a deviation. The novel read smoothly in seventy-seven short chapters. My impression was what was unwritten than written. The ultimate read would be in the Author's own language. No matter how excell...more
Sara Hlín
Las hana á íslensku eftir að hafa nýlokið við að lesa Undantekningu sem kom út núna um sl. jól. Ég er hrifin af frásagnarstílnum hennar Auðar Övu en sama atriðið pirraði mig við Afleggjarann og við Undantekningu. Í báðum bókum eru börn sögupersónur og í báðum bókum virðist sem hún hafi ekki rannsakað nægilega vel hvað börn á vissum aldursskeiðum eru fær um að gera! Í Afleggjaranum er Lobbi með 9-10 mánaða gamalt barn sem getur gert hluti sem venjuleg börn á þessum aldri geta ekki. Barnið getur p...more
I feel like translated fiction can be awfully hit or miss - usually more of a result of the translation, than the original work. This translated novel I thought was smoothly written, and very interesting. I really enjoyed reading it, but it felt more like half a novel than a full novel because the ending was just lacking. Everything about it felt unfinished, other than the relationship between father and daughter. The ending did not satisfy me, and some of the more fantastic healing elements wer...more
This short novel is told in a first person, stream of consciousness narrative. The narrator, Lobbi, is a young (22) Icelandic man who makes a long journey to tend the once famous rose garden of an isolated monastery that has fallen into disrepair. He leaves behind his 77 year old widowed father and autistic twin brother. Also left behind is a 4 month old daughter, born of a one night stand, that he has seen only once – the day she was born.

The voyage to the monastery is fairly uneventful, apart...more
The best thing about this book is that a 50-someodd year old woman has captured the voice of a 22 year old man. That, however, is the worst thing about this book as well.
I found his self-centered reflections a little annoying, but having been 22, there was some uncomfortable resonance with the thoughts the lead character shares, as well. I found this discomfort interesting to explore (some).
The main character has had some hardships, but for the length of the story, things seem to come pretty ea...more
Lise Sirois
I liked a lot this small book. Reading it maked me feel in a very soft and warm place.
The story: A young man leaves his father and twin brother to go to work in a monastery redoing a rose garden. The Young man misses his deceased mother, his family old and new. He discover the world outside and travels to find himself too.
Nice story, delicate way of telling it. Small strokes with a little paintbrush in pastel colours.
This was a rather leisurely book to read. I found I could dip in for awhile, put it down, go on to something else, return when I was in the mood. Atmospheric, not much in the way of a plot, in a way it's a coming of age story. Our young hero has lost his mother recently and is rather adrift. He has a night of passion in his mother's old greenhouse, resulting in the birth of a child. He leaves the village, leving behind the child and its mother, to restore an ancient rose garden at a monastery ma...more
Une histoire simple d'un jeune homme jardinier qui quitte son pays, l'Islande, pour se rendre dans une roseraie dans un pays non-nommée (Italie?). Sa mère décédée lui a transmis son amour des plantes et en particulier des roses. Il laisse son père et son frère au pays ainsi que sa petite fille de quelques mois et la mère du bébé. C'est un roman de la découverte de soi, du passage à l'âge adulte- la vie du jeune homme au monastère est un moment privilégié de réflexion et de rencontres. Une lectur...more
I believe my first Icelandic author.Really enjoyed this warm and tender story of a young man discovering adulthood and life in general through a series of events and observations. Charming and beautifully written, I enjoyed the characters, the detailed observations the 22 year old makes of the people around him,and the setting for the story was also intriguing as the author never mentions where they are! Look forward to reading more from this author.
Dauðinn, lífið og rósir. Þetta er ferðasaga hins 22 ára Arnljóts sem er í leit að tilgangi eigin lífs í rósagarði klausturs. Hún fjallar einnig um móðurhlutverkið því Arnljótur er að takast á við dauða móður sinnar, en í gegnum það ferli uppgvötar hann föðurhlutverkið. Hún er rík af fallegu myndmáli, áhugaverðum persónum og litlum skemmtilegum táknum (td. endurtekning tölustafa og lita).
Mar 04, 2014 Zioluc rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zioluc by: andrea bajani
Shelves: narrativa
La scrittura tutto sommato piacevole è l'unico pregio di un romanzo noioso, sdolcinato e inutile, degno della più dozzinale letteratura... rosa.
Oltre al tempo perso a leggerlo mi hanno infastidito alcune cose in particolare. Una è che il protagonista è un 22enne in preda a interrogativi esistenziali e a passioni ormonali, ma pensa e agisce come una donna - e come ciliegina sulla torta i suoi più grandi interessi sono fiori e ricette di cucina: che tenero.
Un'altra è che l'autrice compie acrobazi...more
Ho scelto di leggerlo spinta dalle recensioni entusiaste. Devo essermi persa qualcosa perchè io invece non l'ho trovato per nulla eccezionale. Originale sí ma è come se l'autore non fosse riuscito a sviluppare l'intuizione che indubbiamente ha avuto.
Celeste Corrêa
" rosa candida" foi escrito por uma islandesa, cujo nome é impronunciável e difícil de lembrar. Contudo, o livro, que acabei de ler, é de título fácil de recordar e impossível de esquecer. É a história de um jovem que assume o papel de pai ao mesmo tempo que se torna homem. Uma história de amadurecimento, sobre a beleza da vida e a forma como pequenas e simples experiências podem muitas vezes transformar a realidade numa extraordinária e incomum vida.
Um livro que me impressionou profundamente e...more
The main merit of this charming story was that it inspired me to step outside and weed the garden. So I was away from screens for a while. Well, for half a day...
Simple yet deep. I loved the budding father daughter relationship between Lobbi and his baby daughter Flora Sol. Translated from Icelandic.
Kenneth Fredette
This is not a crime novel in any way. Lobbi is an interesting man, in that he has a daughter out of wedlock and ends up with her. Enough said.
juan carlos
Un libro con una trama sencilla que no tiene giros inesperados ni momentos cumbres, pero que aún así disfrutas. La verdad este libro hizo una química conmigo, que provoco en mi una lectura fluida y que el reloj avanzara sin que yo me diera cuenta, ya que la vida del protagonista me tenia completamente absorto y anonadado. El final, en realidad no me gusto, me dejo con un vació interno realmente feo, pero es realista y adecuado para la trama. Una novela diferente, una historia que muestra lo crud...more
Yndisleg saga um ferðina heim og töfrana í hversdagslífinu, afar fallegur og flæðandi texti.
Il bello è oggettivo? Esiste qualcosa che possa essere considerato come universalmente bello? Goethe (giusto per citare uno sconosciuto) potrebbe rispondere con l’esempio della Cappella Sistina, ma James di Un giorno questo dolore ti sarà utile ribatterebbe dicendo: «Io odio la Cappella Sistina. Odio che Michelangelo abbia sprecato il suo talento per arruffianarsi la chiesa cattolica». Se dovessi rispondere io, annovererei tra i cultori del bello Canova, Bernini o, in letteratura, Antonio Tabucc...more
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Rosa Candida 1 7 Apr 15, 2014 02:20PM  
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Undantekningin - de arte poetica Rigning í nóvember Upphækkuð jörð L'eccezione Sálmurinn um glimmer

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“Can a person who has been brought up in the heart of a thick dark forest, where one has to beat a path through multiple layers of trees just to take a letter to the post office, have any conception of what it’s like to spend one’s entire childhood waiting for a single tree to grow?” 20 likes
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