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De thuisreis

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  259 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Een in Engeland wonende IJslandse vrouw van middelbare leeftijd die nog een jaar te leven heeft, keert terug naar haar geboorteplaats om in het reine te komen met haar verleden.
Paperback, 260 pages
Published 2005 by Niigh & Van Ditmar (first published 1999)
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Linda Lipko
This is not a gut wrenching, page turner. This is not a fast paced emotional story.

This is a poetic, marvelous tale of Disa who recently received word that she has a year to live thus prompting her to travel back home to Iceland.

Living in the English countryside, managing a lovely bed and breakfast, Disa is content with her life. The author paints a calm, aesthetic portrait of flowers and rolling hills, of food prepared well, of clean, quiet restful rooms and a tranquil lifestyle.

Leaving her wel
I know that people say that Proust wrote best about the nature of memory, but not being able to confirm or deny this yet (working on it), I'm going to go ahead and say that the Icelanders have my vote on this count so far. Much in the same fashion that Angels of the Universe broke memories into small, discreet episodes which were relayed in a more elliptical than linear fashion, The Journey Home finds its protagonist collaging together a series remembrances as she travels home to Iceland for the ...more
I can appreciate a leisurely pace in storytelling, but this was a little too slow for me. I felt for the main character, but ultimately did not like her, so that dampened the book for me, too. I do applaud the author's ability to deftly weave the past and the present together in the narrative.
Oct 11, 2008 Janet rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my scandinavian friends
Lyrical and magical. Olafsson captures the mood and personality of the frozen tundra of Iceland. A story of a dying woman's trek back to her homeland. More inspirational then sad. I loved it.
Like Halldor Laxness's Atom Station, this book revolves around a lot of the fallout from World War II as it involved Iceland; only here the focus is even more personal. The narrator is a woman on her way home--though not for the first time. It's a testament to Olafsson's skill that he was able to weave several plotlines involving the same characters but in different eras together so seamlessly.

I say "seamlessly," but the book was definitely easier to read in long sittings than it was to read in
Rachel Hirstwood
Can't decide if this is a 3star or 4star book. I didn't like the beginning of it. It has very short chapters and the time scale is rather hard to follow. It seemed the protagonist woke up three times in three different places apparently without connection. Eventually it began to flow better and turned into a quite sweet and touching story of a woman coming to terms with loss and grief from her past as she is faced with an implied - although not fully mentioned or described - terminal illness. It ...more
This character-driven novel is a qiet, introspective look at the life of Asdis "Disa" Jonsdottir as she prepares herself and Anthony for her death. She and Anthony have been running a hotel from his ancestral home, where Disa as the chef has been offering excellent food to their clientele. Disa has a terminal illness and has promised to return to her native Iceland before she dies to put to rest the ghosts of her past. A beautifully rendered book about family, love, persistence, and regret.
The first third of this elegant novel left me oddly ambivalent, but it grew on me. It deals with the life-and-death moments of ordinary existence with restraint, realistic ambiguity and tenderness. Olaf Olafsson doesn't waste a word, and the words are tasty:

"Then the gaze of my Maker left me in peace, as did his justice -- his justice which is nothing but punishment, his love which is nothing but contempt, his touch which is a blow, his mercy which is death. Then my Maker left me in peace and th
I first read this book in 2005, and hoped that after reading it again, I'd be able to pass it along to make some room on my overcrowded bookshelves. No such luck. Several pages in, I was hooked again.
The writing is so graceful that you don't mind the slow pacing as the story unfolds. As Disa ponders her trip from England to her native Iceland, you can hear the crackle of the ice outside, smell the apples she's baking, hear the murmur of her guests in the next room. Much of it seems dreamlike, an
Disa and her gay friend Anthony have kept an inn in England for years. Given 18 months to live, Disa decides to travel back to her home in Iceland one last time. Her trip is told with flashbacks to her life interspersed, sometimes making it hard to be sure what is happening when. We learn that she was engaged to a Jewish man who lost his life when he went back to Germany to try to get his parents out. But until the very end of the book, we don’t learn the real reason for her journey. The book ha ...more
Luke Sherwood
An Icelandic chef travels from London to Reykjavik in A Journey Home - she travels in a literal sense, and as in quality fiction, her journey takes on a metaphoric dimension as well. Her journey’s meaning is revealed to us in the course of her first-person narrative, and along the way the author treats us to some remarkable effects. This is a bewitching book, with its low-key diction and its high-strung, independent heroine.

Her name is Asdis, and is called Disa for short. In her life she goes he
Title: The Journey Home: A woman makes one last journey home to face what she left behind.


Disa is at the end of her life. Her doctor has given her, at the outside, a year to live. The disease that is killing her doesn't matter, its finality makes her realize that she can no longer put off dealing with a past she did not want to relive. So Disa sets off on a journey to her native Iceland to see the outcome of that terrible time during WW2 when she found happiness for a while and then lost i
I read this because I was intrigued by the author's background and wanted to learn more about Icelandic culture. The book was really well written and constructed. However, when I reached the end, I couldn't figure out why the author had gone to all the trouble of writing it. The surprise ending didn't seem like that much of a surprise, not such a big deal. The characters didn't stay with me for more than a few days after finishing the book. I had hoped for greater moral or emotional depth.
A very good book, but not a great book and I guess I was hoping for great. The story of a dying woman in Scotland who decides to journey home to the village in Iceland where she grew up. In the process she faces many demons from her past. My main problem was that the character wasn't entirely likable, which I suppose made her more human, but I was thinking that with all she had been through she would have been more humane.
I agree with the reviewers who have recognised a similarity in style to Kazuo Ishiguro's work, which is one of the reasons this book was so enjoyable. Olaf has created a complex, stubborn character who, for all her faults, is admirably stoic and ultimately wise. Memories are recalled, seemingly at random, but in a way that gives cohesiveness and depth to the narrative.

I agree with the reviewers who have recognised a similarity in style to Kazuo Ishiguro's work, which is one of the reasons this book was so enjoyable. Olaf has created a complex, stubborn character who, for all her faults, is admirably stoic and ultimately wise. Memories are recalled, seemingly at random, but in a way that gives cohesiveness and depth to the narrative
Quietly powerful. Evocative of England and Iceland. A series of journeys "home."
I really enjoy reading an Olafsson book. His vivid imagery pulls you into the story.
Sally Atwell Williams
I liked this book. The story is told by the main character, Disa. Disa lived in Iceland during her childhood, and was a very determined young woman. She loved to cook and after finishing her schooling, was hired by a restaurant owner where she increased his business. However, she went to England and was able to get a chef's position in London.

The story is woven back and forth, between England and Finland, between relationships which took place at different time periods, but then become part of
The novel is told in first person style. The main character Disa, kind of reminds me of the butler from "Remains of The Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro. Both of the characters are very proper and English (except that Disa is really Icelandic). The other similarity is that the stories take place in roughly the same time period. Spanning the beginning of WWII and its after math. I wanted to like Disa's character, but just like the butler (I can't remember his name) in "Remains of The Day" they were both to ...more
William Herschel
I hate the blurbs and quotes on the back of books. They seem to use up all the fitting adjectives and then when I want to describe the book I think I'm copying or stealing from fancy newspapers and book reviewers.

So this time I will piece together the more fitting ones: quiet, lyrical, bleak yet utterly beautiful, as lucid as a sheet of ice (okay, I wouldn't have been able to think of that one).

The book is composed of short little chapters, interweaving between the present and the past. Our main
Kay Wright
A woman learns she is dying and takes a final trip back to her native Iceland while she has the strength. That's about it. But of course it isn't. Her life story plays out through the journey and we learn much about her. The writing is very spare, you never learn what she looks like, how old she is or even when she is taking this trip although I would guess it must be in the late 50's. You do learn what the world looks like through her eyes, at the inn where she lives and cooks with her parner R ...more
The first half was so slow I almost gave up reading it (which I rarely do). The style is kind of choppy and hard to follow (flips between now and different time periods of the narrator's past). With a quarter left, it suddenly became hard to put down but took too long to get there that I wouldn't really recommend. The main character also seemed a bit dramatic to me too.
Diana Wille
This book was terribly confusing to read. Does the author's native Icelandic not have verb tenses that help place events on the time continuum? Abrupt changes to events happening decades in the past made this difficult to follow, and the plot wasn't gripping enough to make the effort worthwhile. Pass.
The story of Disa unwinds slowly through a series of shifts among different places and times in her life. Olafsson's story of a woman growing up in remote northern Iceland, rebelling against her parents, moving to England, finding an unsuitable beau and moving forward until near the end of her life, takes time to find its footing. The latter half of the novel, once the narrative and the time shifts create an understandable pattern, is more successful than the first half. Throughout the author re ...more
Marilyn Brooks
This book was to me a portrayal of the way life really is, with a lot of introspection and bad decisions and existential isolation. I can identify with character all too well for her rationalizing that causes her heartache. It feels chaotic like life sometimes does with all the flashbacks that drive the story forward and allow us to understand her psyche.
Wow this book has all the cliches. Jews in WWII, a gay guy hiding his sexuality, a rape scene...! Yawn
Beautiful story; beautifully written.
Steven Coberly
A beautifully written book, but it doesn't "do" much. The plot is moderately interesting, mostly because of the asynchronous method if narration. But if told in a straightforward manner it would not be much of a story. The character is not very interesting or complex, and there is not much in the way of her development. And I saw little coherence in the lyrical images throughout the novel. It reminds me of a nice bauble on a shelf; it is pretty to look at, but doesn't do anything. Oh, and there ...more
Liz M
It's an easy read. Not much depth to the characters, and not much development of them either - even from the events of the past. But enjoyable, nonetheless. I guess the best parts were the flipping back and forth of memories to the present, and being unsure of which time period I was reading about - I like it when things aren't obvious. And the other nice thing is that the guessing game continued about what was bringing the protagonist back to Iceland, which was subsequently revealed at the end ...more
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Olaf Olafsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1962. He studied physics as a Wien Scholar at Brandeis University. He is the author of three previous novels, The Journey Home, Absolution and Walking Into the Night, and a story collection, Valentines. His books have been published to critical acclaim in more than twenty languages. He is the recipient of the O. Henry Award and the Icelandic Literary ...more
More about Olaf Olafsson...
Restoration Walking Into the Night Valentines Absolution Málverkið

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