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Gunnar's Daughter

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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  489 ratings  ·  53 reviews
More than a decade before writing Kristin Lavransdatter, the trilogy about fourteenth-century Norway that won her the Nobel Prize, Sigrid Undset published Gunnar's Daughter, a brief, swiftly moving tale about a more violent period of her country's history, the Saga Age. Set in Norway and Iceland at the beginning of the eleventh century, Gunnar's Daughter is the story of th ...more
Paperback, 161 pages
Published April 1st 1998 by Penguin Classics (first published 1909)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,067)
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Henry Avila
As the age of the Vikings slowly comes to an end,they become more traders than raiders.With the spread of Christianity.Around A.D. 1000, a small settlement, in what will become the great city of Oslo,Norway.There lived a beautiful daughter of Gunnar's,the most powerful landowner in the area.She has many suitors but being a teenager Vigdis Gunnarsdatter, has time to choose her mate.Her father promised that.Unusual for the era.But Gunnar loves his brave ,intelligent daughter and only child.Besides ...more
Maggie
Growing up, my mom tried to do the Asian mom thing and ban TV during the weekdays. So of course, I binge watched trashy daytime TV during holidays while she was at work. The TV was basically on from the time she left to an hour before she got home -- you know, so the TV would be cool to the touch if she was inclined to check. From 12-3pm, I watched All My Children (RIP), One Life to Live, and General Hospital. General Hospital was the only one I ended up watching regularly.

I loved the wealthy an
...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
Sigrid Undset is a genius. For, this is a short work with shorter chapters and yet contains many themes and all of them are adequately treated.

1. This is a historical fiction: The novel is set in the beginning of the 11th century in Norway when the Viking age was facing the transition into the Christian Middle Ages. It was the time Christianity entered into the Viking cultural milieu. And the initial frictions that appear between two cultures are expressed in many places in an interesting manne
...more
Webster Bull
This strange and striking short book by Sigrid Undset is part novel, part saga, and all Undset. Published in 1909 when she was 27, before the author was either married or Catholic, it contains the themes of her mature and most famous books (Kristin Lavransdatter and The Master of Hestviken, both written in the 1920s). Like those multivolume works, which won her the Nobel Prize for Literature, the concise Gunnar’s Daughter focuses on the moral dilemmas of women and men living in a violent time wh ...more
Nick
I'm not sure I could've picked a book more contrary in style and tone to the seven-volume Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Where King is elaborate and at times overpowering in his imaginative vision, Undset is so spare in her narration that her characters are almost always surprising me with their words and actions. I once heard Cormac McCarthy's writing described as 'biblical' for its laconic tone, but in comparison to Undset, McCarthy comes across like a high school girl journaling about her ...more
Briynne
I'm going to try not to gush, but it's going to be tough. I am in awe of Sigrid Undset. Total and complete awe. The style of the novel was intriguing. Undset models the book after the old sagas, which gives it a fundamentally different tone than that of Kristen Lavransdatter. At first, I was not entirely convinced; it seemed a little awkward and artificial, but thankfully after a couple of chapters she seemed to settle into the form. Or, perhaps, she simply abandoned her initial strict adherence ...more
Lindsey
Nov 07, 2007 Lindsey rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lindsey by: High School - Mr. Tres' class
I read it in high school. The writing style seemed strikingly different from the trashy beach-reads I was into at the time.

I re-read it recently (2008) and again was struck by the effect of the sparse writing, which effectively conveyed both the cruelty of the weather and the characters.
Nick
This was Sigrid Undset's first venture into the dark world of medieval Scandinavia; later, longer works would win her the Nobel Prize. "Gunnar's Daughter" is spare and harsh; it looks back not just on the sagas, with their manly world of insults and vengeance, but even farther back to the murder ballads. This is a world in which fate is set by a moment's decision, words uttered in anger control destiny. Gunnar's daughter herself converts to Christianity -- the great Christianizing king Olaf Tryg ...more
Diane Anderson
I am on sabbatical and that means I can spare some time to read for pleasure! I am not sure of reading books by Nobel Laureate Sigrid Undset is only pleasure. Her books feels like an education in feminist theory, history, geography, aesthetics, psychology, and literature. She is an amazing author! Start with the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter if you have any interest at all. How she can write as such a knowledgeable Norwegian historian AND have her novels feels so contemporary regarding the "huma ...more
Kelly
The updated saga form further proves to us how little the fundamentals of human nature change over the centuries. I respect brutal truths.
Kira
The only beloved Sigrid Undset that does not leave one depressed for weeks. Lovely!
Maxwell Heath
This was a very good book. While this is written in a style very similar to that of the actual Icelandic Sagas, it manages to have more psychological depth and complexity to its characters. The story ends on a somewhat ambiguous note. It's in some ways a simple one, but it raises some interesting issues and is told in a way that forces the reader to decide how much they're willing to sympathize and identify with the various characters. It also contains themes and situations that are definitely s ...more
Audrey
This book was written by Nobel Prize-winning writer Sigrid Undset when she was in her late 20s. It's written in the style of Icelandic sagas and takes place in 11th century Norway and Iceland. I've never read Icelandic sagas before but Gunnar's Daughter was AMAZING. Many characters, including Vigdis Gunnarsdatter, the heroine, had been badly wronged, Undset depicts them in a detached, unsentimental manner, showing how people would respond to their awful circumstances within their historical/soci ...more
Josiah
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sonja
Sigrid Undset has a way of sucking you into the story and not letting you go until it is finished. Even though the tale could be described as a tragedy, it somehow captures my interest thoroughly. Maybe it's the Old Norway setting or just the way she portrays how people have ways of creating suffering for themselves or at least intensify the suffering when there were chances for making amends and living more happily.

She also captures the conflicting ethics of the Pagan/Viking way of life to Chri
...more
Erik Graff
Apr 24, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Undset fans
Recommended to Erik by: Anne-Lise Graff
Shelves: literature
Sigrid Undset was introduced to me by Mother when I first visited her in Oslo. Her Kristen Lavransdatter trilogy was a revelation, both of medieval Norway and of domestic life and the lives of women during the period. Being in Norway at the time, I was able to visit many of the sites mentioned in the novels, the most impressive of which was the island nunnery in the Oslofjord, still known for its imported vegetation brought there by the sisters centuries ago.

Gunnar's Daughter is set a couple of
...more
Oscar
This early novel by Sigrid Undset took me by surprise. Written in a terse pseudo-saga style, it harbours a traditional love-and-revenge-driven drama, subtly combined with a slightly more modern plot, and an essential role for the female protagonist of the story, Vigdis.

Without wanting to spoil too much of the story, Vigdis and Ljot are two headstrong people from mediaeval Norway and Iceland, entangled in an affair of love and hate. While Ljot bears the original responsibility for their failed re
...more
Michelle
With a theme not far from the one found in "Kristin Lavransdatter" I was surprised to find this just as engaging (and not nearly as time consuming!). Reading Sigrid Undset's works I return to my own life just a little more grateful, forgiving, and perhaps even... loving. While you feel such pain for the characters locked into their (often) self-induced tragedies, you sometimes find hints of the same things in your own life. You realize you can't change their lives and choices, but you can change ...more
Tom Johnson
Twenty years ago I made it through the first 2 books of the Kristen Lavransdatter trilogy, as translated by Charles Archer - his is considered the lesser of the English translations but I loved his use of archaic English. Years later I found I could not read Nunnally's effort. Gunnar's Daughter is first-rate storytelling - short at 150 pages and told in a unique style - the translation by Arthur G. Chater is superb. I have struggled trying to grasp the Viking age, a hopeless task I know, this sm ...more
Ashley
Gunnar's Daughter feels like it was written hundreds of years ago. Undset based her style and story on the sagas of Iceland that she read as a girl--even the language and tone echo those early pre-Christian histories. Set in eleventh-century Iceland and Norway, it's the story of Vigdis Gunnarsdatter who is raped by the man she wanted to marry. It's full of vikings and violence, and you might think the setting is too far removed to hold any interest for you--but it's amazing how relevant and powe ...more
Annie
Synopsis:
Callously ravished by the man she hoped to love, an 11th Century Norwegian woman shapes her life around dreams of vengeance.

Review:
Gunnar’s Daughter is an early novel from the Sigrid Undset, author of the Nobel Prize-winning Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, and it is no less of a powerful, shocking work not just for a book set in medieval Norway, but for a book written at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Read the rest here.
Lisa
I loved it. It took a little while to feel accustomed to the old style of writing and use of Nordic language, but was enthralled from the first page. I definitely felt that I had in my hands a "classic".
Caitlin
I lasted about a week after finishing Kristin Lavransdatter before giving in and returning to Sigrid Undset's Norway. As with the much longer K.L. (an acronym seems necessary...), I was gripped from the first sentence: not because Undset writes in a sensational style--quite the opposite--but because yet again her medieval world feels as real as this one. Gunnar's Daughter has a plot that isn't far from melodrama in its broad strokes, but at no point (except perhaps towards the very end) does the ...more
Adam
This early medieval novel by Sigrid Undset is a riveting, fast-paced read that combines some of the best features of the Scandinavian saga form and the modern historical novel. Taking place in the late Viking age, Gunnar’s Daughter is filled with blood and battle, romance and betrayal, heroism and revenge. An absolute delight for anyone who loves Tolkien, Beowulf, or the like.
David Mumford
Great story set at the end of the Viking Age and the spread of Christianity into Scandinavia at the time. The method of quickly going over events and compressing chapters is intriguing and fits well into the overall theme of the novel.
Elizabeth Halpin
A short read, Gunnar's Daughter is not a simple love story. The spectrum of emotion Undest is able to evoke in just over 100 pages is impressive. As a tale of repression, anger, suffering, and redemption, ultimately this is a story about different kinds of love a person can experience in a lifetime. It is also a warning about the destructive power of love, if tainted by lust or shame. Undest sketches a shadow over the concept of true and pure love while leaving space for its possibility. I recom ...more
Melissa
Fantastic. I stayed up until 3:15 in the morning to finish it.
Michael Kremer
A brilliant and savage tale.
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Undset was born in Kalundborg, Denmark, but her family moved to Norway when she was two years old. In 1924, she converted to Catholicism and became a lay Dominican. She fled Norway in 1940 because of her opposition to Nazi Germany and the German occupation, but returned after the end of World War II in 1945.

Sigrid Undset received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. Most of the praise was for h
...more
More about Sigrid Undset...
Kristin Lavransdatter (Kristin Lavransdatter, #1-3) The Wreath (Kristin Lavransdatter, #1) The Wife (Kristin Lavransdatter, #2) The Cross (Kristin Lavransdatter, #3) The Axe (The Master of Hestviken, #1)

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