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3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  149 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
From the acclaimed Icelandic author of Absolution, The Journey Home (now about to start filming under Liv Ullmannâs direction) and Walking into the Night: a haunting collection of thematically linked stories that encompasses the twelve months of a year, capturing the most candid moments between lovers, husbands and wives, parents and childrenâwhen truths and true feelings ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by Pantheon (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 253)
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Dec 16, 2008 Carly rated it it was ok
As others have commented, Olafsson's writing is predictable. As each story ends you get a better sense of what the next is going to be about: a male protagonist who is either unfaithful, thinking about being unfaithful, or whose wife is unfaithful to him. It kind of pissed me off that only one of the twelve protagonists was female, and that all of the characters, female or no, were so poorly rendered. About halfway through the collection I realized that Olafsson was really just phoning it in. I' ...more
Apr 19, 2009 Gloria rated it it was amazing
Twelve stories which were all delightful. It would be a great book for Book Club,
May 16, 2008 IWB rated it liked it
Touted by many as equal in quality to Carver, I found Olafsson's writing a bit predictable and contrived; the stories lack the depth of grit found in a typical Carver story, as well. There were times when I was acutely aware of technical devices, the kind that made me think Olafsson was trying too hard to create an affectation. So, I don't think this collection is comparable to Carver, particularly Cathedral, which is a masterful collection of short stories.

Having said that, these stories posse
Apr 09, 2014 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stuff
Although there is something interesting (if not novel) about a collection of stories of failed and failing relationships titled Valentines, this did not deliver.
The prose was stale, the themes static, the characters blended into one another, and there was an undercurrent of smug conservative expectation that did not compliment an examination of human love relationships.
By the time I had read four of these stories, I was waiting for the end so I could move on.
Jul 07, 2014 Lois rated it really liked it
I don't read too many short stories anymore, because they usually don't satisfy me enough. I read these because of the author. I've enjoyed two of his novels, and his writing style, so while most of these 12 stories often end in a way that leaves you unsure of what will happen next, it seems perfect for each of them. Not your typical "valentines", these.
Jan 09, 2015 Pierre-Emmanuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mjög góð bók. Ég keypti hana reyndar óvart - ég var búinn að lesa Málverkið (sem mér fannst leiðinleg og svolitið tilgerðarleg skáldsaga) og ég áttaði mig ekki á því að Ólafur Ólafsson var líka höfundur Aldingarðsins. En ég naut bókarinnar mjög mikið. Það er mjög erfitt að leggja hana af sér.
Apr 02, 2014 Rachele rated it did not like it
Once in a while you read a book which can be entirely summed up in one sentence. Here goes: "melancholy and meaningless short stories about Icelandic people's marriages ending."
Catherine Woodman
The only reason I don't think this is a five star book is because while the stories are all around the theme of what can and will go wrong with relationships, short stories are kind of just easier to do this with. The book is well written, almost heartbreaking throughout, and have a strong insightful yet make voice,w hich is kind of a rarity. I love all his work, The Journey Home being my favorite, but this is a close second. He has a mournfulness that may reflect his heritage, but it comes thro ...more
Sally Atwell Williams
Jun 12, 2015 Sally Atwell Williams rated it really liked it
Valentine's has twelve short stories in, one for each month of the year. It is about love, families, relationships. It is an easy and fun read.
Scott L
Dec 04, 2012 Scott L rated it really liked it
I generally do not read short stories. I always feel unsatisfied, wanting more story. "Valentines" came to my attention after a trip to Iceland. I discovered that the book was to be made into a tv series by one of my favorites - Robert Redford. I had read Olafsson's other books and found them excellent. So I picked this up and read most within an evening. Each month has a story about love and the quirky things it does to people. Of course, I was left hungry for more but found each tale engrossin ...more
Jul 19, 2012 Denton rated it liked it
Olafsson takes a lot of twists and turns in his stories, which I admire. Small amounts of dialouge and lots of exposition is the norm. There's a lack of emotion in the stories, especially a lack seen in characters, which makes some of their actions less believable. Overall, these stories are well written. I read through them quickly, which means I didn't hate them, and yet, I can't say I loved them either.
I really did not like these stories. They left me feeling hopeless, and sad? Each "month" showed another life where the characters could not get out of their own way. I kept waiting for a tie-in to the other months and/or the other characters. But no, each month another devastating life was displayed!
Sep 10, 2012 Lena rated it liked it
The short stories tended to be enigmatic. I was often left trying to figure out why each story ended the way it did--they definitely were not typical "storybook" endings, which I think was the point of the stories. But I felt like some of the ending were unknowable and were frustrating.
Feb 18, 2013 Kathie rated it really liked it
I can't remember how I came across this book last week, but I'm so glad I did! I'm not usually a big fan of short stories, but these were so well written. I'd highly recommend this book is you're interested in the dynamics of couples, or if you're just looking for a good read.
Abby Sominski
Mar 21, 2008 Abby Sominski rated it really liked it
This was my first Olaf Olafsson book and I am hooked. I more than liked every story in this collection except one I skimmed, the rest were fantastic. I am reading his novel 'Absolution' next and looking forward to it!
Mar 17, 2011 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Stunning collection of short stories. There is so much pain these lives. I was reading this at Silent reading Wednesday the the Sorrento and made a ninny of myself by gasping not once once but twice.
Mar 25, 2007 Lauren rated it liked it
It's not what you think it is. Don't come looking for happy Valentine stories, but it is a book with economic prose and blistering moments.
Sheila A.
Apr 14, 2012 Sheila A. rated it it was amazing
I will be reading all of his the events make their way to the ending are masterful...unforgettable.
Nov 02, 2012 Jamie rated it liked it
I enjoyed his novels more than the short stories.
But if you like Olafsson, you will enjoy reading these too.
Marsena Dufresne
Nov 09, 2007 Marsena Dufresne rated it liked it
Distinct voices and interesting dynamics between characters. If you like short stories, I'd recommend it.
Mar 13, 2014 lauren rated it liked it
the first book of short stories that actually held my attention the entire way through!
Abigail (Abbe)
Sep 18, 2008 Abigail (Abbe) rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
three of the short stories shocked me :)i really enjoyed the book.
Jan 13, 2013 Rina rated it it was ok
after a while, all the stories sound the same.
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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
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