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The Tricking of Freya: A Novel

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  614 ratings  ·  165 reviews
A young woman obsessed with uncovering a family secret is drawn into the strange and magical history, language and landscape of Iceland.

Freya Morris grows up in a typical American suburb – but every summer, she enters another realm entirely when she visits her relatives in Gimli, a tiny village in Canada settled by Icelandic immigrants. Here she falls under the spell of
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by St. Martin's Press
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Jul 09, 2009 Cheryl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those with a love of language and family sagas.
Every once in awhile a book comes along that just takes my breath away. I can't explain why and the ones on my short list (like Sunlight in a Beautiful Garden, Moby Dick or The Time Traveler's Wife) don't appear to have any similarities to each other at all, except perhaps that in all cases, the authors' command of the written word shows what a truly beautiful language English can be in the right hands.

From the the first paragraph until I closed the cover last night I was swept away by this lyri
What do I think the book is about? A multigenerational saga filled with Icelandic myths, legends, culture and landscapes. Good writing. Exploration of family secret.

My guess was correct! And the book was very good, in fact worth four stars. I loved learning about Iceland and the Icelandic immigrants that settled in Manitoba, Canada.

The above is still correct. I have read 43% .
In addition to that above the story is a coming of age novel. It is light read
Wow. This book made me want to sign up for a writing class or go back in time and go to a college with a great writing program... Altough it is a first novel by the author she is clearly a superb writer (and in fact teaches writing in San Francisco(?)). Brilliant. The flow of the words, the character of the Icelandic culture that permeates and breathes through this novel, the portrayal of bipolar disorder that shows but does not tell us what's going on, the plotting and the unfolding and the ver ...more
There is a story in the Icelandic poetic cannon about the tricking of Gylfi. Gylfi, the king, goes to challenge the Aesir (the clan of the gods) and discover the source of their power. He approaches Odin, who appears as a trinity on three thrones, and challenges him with a feat of wits wherein he peppers the tri-god with questions about the beginning and the end of the world. Odin, of course, easily answers all the inquiries and Gylfi fears for his life. Finally, he manages to stump Odin. Immedi ...more
After a spate of middling reads, I am delighted with the start of this novel. Christina Sunley's astute observance of children reminds me of Anne-Marie MacDonald. Good writing, interesting setting (an Icelandic settlement in Canada) . . . sigh, I'm happy.

Now that I have finished "The Tricking of Freya," I highly recommend it. The promising opening played out into an involving read that kept me up late and made me want this novel to be a hit so that Sunley will write more. The publisher has an am
Lisa Beaulieu
Jun 24, 2012 Lisa Beaulieu rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who are fascinated by Iceland
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

Freya Morris discovers a bare hint of a family secret, a secret she sets out to unravel. On the way, we meet her family of Icelandic expatriates living in Gimli, Manitoba (the Canadian New Iceland), her manic depressive aunt, her long-suffering mother and grandmother, and several loyal family friends. Mix this surface story with reflections on language, goddesses, episodes from the famous Icelandic sagas (best represented by the poet-warrior Egil Skallagrimson), and above all the landscapes of G

This book made me want to be icelandic, or at least have a really good friend that lives there and lets me stay the summers.

The writting, the voice, the pauses, the rhythm, I am not sure what the proper term is, but whatever IT is, it is different in this book. Good different, interesting different. It took me a chapter or two to find my bearings in reading the story, but I am so glad I continued. Sorry if this sounds silly, but sometimes I felt like I was reading english for the first time. Ho
Not as tightly woven as most mysteries, but then probably not meant to be a mystery. I had figured out the main plot "mystery" by a third of the way through. And the heroine really plays the shame-filled orphan card way too much. The description of Birdie, Freya's mother, and her descent into psychotic bipolar disordr appeared on target, and very hard to bear, as it was very painful. Told from the first-person memories of the young person forced to accompany her, made the account even more poign ...more
Dec 02, 2008 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Leslie Rose
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Christina Sunley
A master-tale of search for identity and roots (set mostly in Manitoba & Iceland). Sunley is a clever, poetic and insightful wordsmith, as well as an astute observer of human nature at it's best and worst. I love a novel that has a good balance of good plot and great language - this has both. If you like stories about misfits discovering themselves and ones with complex characters, you'll love this journey of one woman through her family's history and secrets.

I am an old friend of the autho
I was captivated by this story about an Icelandic-Canadian-American (a tiny bit) family. Sunley's writing style was lush and lyrical - she really made me want to visit Iceland and learn more about its literacy tradition. My enjoyment was deepened by my recent reading of Halldór Laxness's Independent People, also set in Iceland, and my visit to the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle just a few months ago. But read this book even if you haven't read IP or visited the museum!
As a poet who writes about runes, I adore kennings. So finding out that there is an emphasis on kennings in this novel attracted me to it. Sure enough there was a paragraph in The Tricking of Freya that inspired me to start the process on a new rune poem. Needless to say,I enjoyed the mythology element and the Icelandic history element.

Although I saw the plot resolution coming a while before the big reveal, I did think the characterization was quite good.

Okay I will admit to skipping over some of the parts about Iceland. But partly because I'm reading it for a book club and had to get it done. And I will admit to figuring out the "trick" ahead of time, well most of it. Otherwise, I thought it was well written with interesting and unique characters.
Celeste Miller
I really enjoyed this book until the last 40 or so pages. At that point, it began to suffer from "Empire Falls Syndrome", or "Gotta wrap this thing up ASAP!" Also, I wish she gave the reader more credit toward the end. The repeated bait and switch gave me whiplash.
I really enjoyed this novel. It inspired me to have a short lived obession with everything Icelandic!
Toni Osborne
This Icelandic saga is full of myth and legend, family drama and accentuated with a vivid description of a beautiful landscape. It tells the story of Freya Morris, a North American woman of Icelandic descent who is obsessed with uncovering a family secret.

Freya grew up in Connecticut but each summer she visited her relatives in Gimli Manitoba, a tinny village in Canada settled by Icelandic immigrants. There she falls under the spell of her aunt Girdie and the story of a secret child she once gav
i began this novel with high hopes and was not let down.

beautiful is the only word to describe sunley's intricate weaving of the elements of the story to create a rich and compelling tapestry of a novel. combining norse mythology, family drama, psychology, and cultural and historical themes, the tricking of freya strikes the perfect balance between these elements.

sunley spins her tale expertly, sending us back and forth through time to link events, emotions, and themes in freya's life. her man
Joell Smith-Borne
Really enjoying this so far--love the insights into Icelandic culture and landscape! I think the description is a little misleading--I thought that the obsession with the family secret is what would drive the main character to go to Iceland and make things happen, but it's more like the obsession is causing her to remember the stuff that happened when she was a kid. So far the adult version of Freya hasn't done anything except write letters, but the kid version has had an AMAZING and scary life. ...more
Fantastic! I just love this book. I read it before, during and after a trip to Iceland and it was the best background reading I could have chosen. Maybe more a companion reader. I learned so much about Iceland, its people, language and culture, all of which gave me a context for my visit to this fascinating country. The descriptions of the landscape are written in beautiful prose and completely capture the extra ordinariness of the island. It's also a book about manic depression / bipolar disord ...more
Jul 10, 2009 Larissa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
It is a touching and realistic portrayal of family and relationships as Freya sorts through her memories in an effort to find truth and identity. Her relationships with her mother and her aunt; one a plain and serious wife, the other an unpredictable woman living a rollercoaster existence of brilliance and misery, are explored. Freya must reconciled her feelings for these two most influential people in her life and discover the truth about her past before she is able to find acceptance of who sh ...more
May 10, 2010 Candice rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ellen, Hester
Recommended to Candice by: GoodReads
Shelves: first-reads
This was a truly absorbing book, and I am so glad to have won a copy from GoodReads! I love books centered on other cultures, and this book was centered on Icelandic culture. The title character, Freya, has had a difficult childhood, losing her father and a beloved aunt when she was still young, and her mother while she was in college. Taking place mostly in Gimli, Manitoba and Iceland, the book takes Freya on a journey to uncover a family secret. There is plenty of Icelandic history, culture, l ...more
so totally engrossing.

i read all the blurbs about this book and somehow didn't fully grasp what it was going to be about but i was pleasantly surprised. the story moved slow and quiet and really picked up once freya was in iceland, which is when i became obsessed with iceland. how did i not know anything about iceland before? it wasn't just about iceland, though, it was about the struggle to figure out what your life is supposed to be like when the most important people to you are dead or absent
Bob Coats
This 2009 coming-of-age novel is the story of Freya, a girl from the Canadian-Icelandic community near Winnepeg. At the age of 7, Freya falls under the influence of a beautiful, flamboyant and deeply disturbed (bipolar, paranoid)aunt who teaches her Icelandic and fills her head with Icelandic poetry and mythology. When Freya is 13, the aunt takes her (without parental permission) on a trip to Iceland, which ends in disaster. Freya is deeply wounded, and retreats into herself, but ultimately retu ...more
I loved many things about this book. Hard to believe this is the first fiction by this author, her writing skills are so wonderful. I loved the story, about the life of a young woman, Freya, who is looking back at events in her childhood, and the dynamics within her family. Freya is "stuck", nearing her thirtieth birthday, and recently reconnecting with her 100 year old grandmother. This is a story not only of one young woman, one family, but also a culture and community. This book gives such a ...more
Although I was annoyed by the first chapter,the overly self-conscious posture of it, I read on and am glad I did. I love Sunley's characterizations, both of "her pople" and of place. Sunley takes a risk of losing her reader (spoiler alert) when her most interesting charcter, Birdie, dies midway through the book and the action slows. Again, I am glad I kept reading. The Tricking of Freya is filled (sometimes to overflowing)with Icelanadic language and lore. The mystery behind The Tricking of Frey ...more
Darshan Elena
What a great novel! Sunley weaves together a tale of immigration and regeneration that references, invokes, and even uses some of the tropes and devices at the heart of Icelandic language and literature. But there's more, the author's description of the local features of Iceland made me yearn to visit this nation. So enticing did I find her descriptions that I spent a couple hours staring at images online - including travel possibilities! Snobs be warned: this book does adhere to generic convent ...more
Mary Anne
This book was recommended by my buddy, Bev N. It was very well written and a bit quirky. When have you last read a novel about Icelandic culture that included a bit of a mystery?
The main character, Freya, is a young woman who is writing essentially a diary for her unknown "cousin." She reveals all the family secrets and takes the reader on a tour of Iceland as well.
The book didn't make me want to visit Iceland, but I definitely enjoyed Freya and her family and Icelandic folklore. The mystery i
Christina Sunley's beautiful debut The Tricking of Freya: A Novel is perhaps one of the most well-written stories I have had the pleasure of reading. Sunley expertly captures the tale of Freya Morris, daughter of a single mother and a dead father, who searches for the story of her elusive and unknown cousin. Hoping to find someone that can help her makes sense of a web of entrenched family secrets, she writes to this person, telling of her annual summer visits with Icelandic relatives in Gimli, ...more
Freya is a little girl who lives in Connecticut but all her extended family lives in Grimli, Canada. Each summer Freya and her mother travel to their Icelandic people in Grimli. That is when Freya really lives, during her summers. Her Aunt Birdie is batty and Freya has a love/hate relationship with her each summer. Birdie is the reason Freya knows so much about Iceland and its language and culture.

"A late-in-life child, I arrived long after my parents had given up the possibility of children...
Kate Davis
Apr 22, 2009 Kate Davis rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kate by: Irene
I love it when I'm enthused by a first novel. It is exciting to discover a new voice that you enjoy and can hope for more work from. Christina Sunley uses beautiful language. It reads well, it makes pictures in my mind and it sounds full rolling around in my mouth.

Beyond the language she tells a story about a girl that I cared about. As she tells of her childhood joys and tragedies I wanted to learn her secrets. She reveals herself and those secrets.

I recommend this book highly.
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Christina Sunley was born in New York City, raised on Long Island, and has lived for the past twenty years in the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended Wesleyan University, got a BFA in Film from New York University, and received her Masters in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She currently works fulltime in the nonprofit sector.

Christina grew up hearing stories about h
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