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Kristin Lavransdatter: The Bridal Wreath/The Mistress of Husaby/The Cross
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Kristin Lavransdatter: The Bridal Wreath/The Mistress of Husaby/The Cross (Kristin Lavransdatter #1-3)

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  3,765 ratings  ·  560 reviews
"The finest historical novel our 20th century has yet produced; indeed it dwarfs most of the fiction of any kind that Europe has produced in the last twenty years."

-- Contemporary Movements in European Literature, edited by William Rose and J. Isaacs

"As a novel it must be ranked with the greatest the world knows today." -- Montreal Star

"Sigrid Undset's trilogy embodies mor...more
cloth, 1069 pages
Published June 27th 1951 by Random House USA Inc. (first published 1920)
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Anne I read Ida Elizabeth two years ago while working in a college library with lots of old books. It captivated and tore the heart out of me; I think I…moreI read Ida Elizabeth two years ago while working in a college library with lots of old books. It captivated and tore the heart out of me; I think I read most of it in a single evening and wrote a couple thousand words of free-writing about the raw emotion it evoked. (less)
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Milo

Well, well, well, Miss Undset has made it onto my 10-star list. She should be proud. She also won a Nobel Prize for her work, so there is that. Her Kristin Lavransdatter books are unquestionably works of massive scope on par with JRR Tolkien's Lord Of the Rings. A strange comparison, you say? Well I agree with you. The only thing that comes to mind immediately is the length of the two. But there is so much more. Where LOTR was preparation for battle with Sauron's forces, Kristin Lavransdatter wa...more
Aubrey
But she couldn’t help it; it was her nature to love with great toil and care.
When I read, I seek the marrow of things. Details and description of lands I shall never see and times I shall never know are all very well, but I am a human being, and it is human beings I am concerned with. It is easier for me with some books than others due to commonalities of sex and race and culture, but more often than not that is a surface tension appeal, a reliance on shared references that both author and I in...more
Ashley
Brilliant and beautiful! I just finished Kristin Lavransdatter and it has easily earned a place in my favorite books ever. Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize in Literature for Kristin Lavransdatter while still in her prime and it was well earned. For those reading it for the first time, I strongly recommend the most recent translation by Tiina Nunnally. The original translation into english by Charles Archer, which I tried to read unsuccessfully several years ago, is filled with unauthentic arhai...more
Webster Bull
Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize in 1928 largely on the strength of her 1,100-page trilogy of Medieval Norwegian life, Kristin Lavransdatter. I recently read it for the first time on the recommendation of a friend in Communion & Liberation (CL). I have since recommended it to other friends and family. Most people don’t have the time for such a long read. Here’s my Letterman list explaining why I think you should make the time.

10. It starts out as a father-daughter story, and I am a sucker f...more
Hesper
This one should be subtitled, "decent people make scads of bad decisions and then agonize over them." Seriously. I am surprised to have liked it as much as I did, because there is no reason this massive book should work.

And yet, it does precisely because of all the reasons why it shouldn't: plot and pace sacrificed to character development, pages and pages of seemingly trivial detail and enough Catholicism to fill a smallish catechism. Taken individually, its separate parts sound like a gruelin...more
Anthony
I've seen Kristin Lavransdatter described as a book about a young woman who "defies her family and faith to follow the passions of her heart." Well, yes. But while today that might be seen as a virtue, it is decidedly not portrayed as such in Kristin Lavransdatter. This is not a feminist book. Despite how often Sigrid Undset wrote about "the immoral kind" of love, she was no proponent of the burgeoning emancipation movement. She is fairly unique among those who write about illicit love because s...more
El
[ETA movie review at the end.]

Man, I don't even know how to review this book. It's really big, and full of melodrama, and it took me a pretty long time to read; and now that I'm done I'm somewhat tired and will be glad not to have to think about this anymore.

Don't get me wrong, this is a fine book. But I didn't love it. At times, I didn't even like it. There was a lot of talky-talk, and maybe that's my own fault for reading the entire kit-and-caboodle in one collection as opposed to reading the...more
Timothy Hallinan
This is my favorite novel of the year. I read it about 30 years ago in the old translation and loved it, but the Tiina Nunnaly rendering is beautifully simple, without the creaking archaisms of the other, which was done in the 1930s, I think.

Reading this again reaffirmed my conviction that many modern historical novels are pap of the tenth magnitude, identifying the sympathetic characters for the drowsy reader by giving them value systems and attitudes that didn't evolve for centuries. The main...more
Rachel
Seven reasons why I really, really want to love Kristin Lavransdatter

1) I have long-standing crushes on both Scandinavia and ye olden days, and this book is a free trip straight to the heart of 14th-century Norway. Undset's portrayal of the life of one woman, from childhood until death, is fascinatingly intertwined with the tensions between the Catholic present and pagan traditions in medieval Norway. And her writing so evocative. You can just smell the cook-fire smoke in the wooden rooms, see...more
Valerie
Kristin Lavransdatter is the story story of a warm and determined woman. I cannot stop to think that what is The Lord of the Rings for boys is this book for girls. Unfortunately the resemblance stops here, as this novel is not so much known today, and the movie set on the book was far from Peter Jackson's masterpiece.
Undset’s writing is fluid and beautifully, and reveals the wild countryside of Norway in the 14th century, with a carefully depicted immersion in the day-to-day life, social, politi...more
Holly
Set in 14th century Norway, this novel follows the story of Kristin Lavransdatter from the age of 7 to the 51. Christianity is firmly established in Norway, but vestiges of paganism remain when famine or plagues strike. Undset won a Nobel prize for the book and it's clear why. The descriptions of the natural setting and the way she described characters makes it one of the best novels I've read. It's a long book and I feel like really did watch all of Kristin's life unfold. If your library has it...more
Paul
This is a beautiful book if it's what you're looking for: a sustained character study and a poignant, ultimately tragic, look at the ultimate futility of earthly life from an author with an authentic sympathy for the medieval mindset. At 1124 pages, it follows essentially the entirety of a medieval Norwegian noblewoman's life, from her childhood through a torrid, illicit affair, through her resulting troubled marriage, and beyond.

It is a character study. It is essentially plotless. Only rarely d...more
Erik Graff
Aug 07, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Anne-Lise Graff
Shelves: literature
This is one of the finest novels I have ever read. Until reading about it to write this note, I had not realized that it was one of the first novels to describe the entire life of a woman who was not a royal. My estimation of the book may be influenced by the fact that I purchased and read it in Norway while spending two months there visting family. Consequently, I was able to visit several of the sites which play a part in the novel while reading it.
Clare Cannon
The epic of all re-readable epics, Kristin Lavransdatter is a three book series that must be read through to the end, for it is one story covering the whole life of the protagonist.

It is set in Norway in the 14th Century, a time and place where faith was intricately interwoven with life, and when land and family, inheritance and name were the full extent of one's identity - Lavransdatter means daughter of Lavrans.

Yet it is also a familiar and human story about the love and enmity between people,...more
Megan
Its difficult to talk about the books in this series as individuals. Really, it is the story of one life. I was not expecting to be as moved as I was by these stories. These lives wrapped me up so fully that I didn't noticed that I had become so deeply attached to Kristin. And now that I am done and she is gone I feel loss.

Its difficult to write much about this story and not sound trite. Sweeping, epic, beautiful, are adjectives that all come to mind. What I can say is that at the end I was str...more
Chris
Spoiler Alert!

After just finishing the trilogy, I'm not sure how I feel about Kristin Lavransdatter. Well written, the story was engaging, emotional, and desperately sad. I loved reading it, but didn't love the story. One tragedy after another, I wanted so much for her happiness but she couldn't see God's beauty and gifts around her ...her own sorrow clouded any hope for peace.

Each time there seemed to be the beauty and enjoyment of everyday life, Kristin would self destruct through yet another...more
Marian
I read the Oxford Press- Charles Archer translation of Kristin Lavransdatter in 1981. It was the best book I ever read. I would come back & re-read parts of it.

Then Tiina Nunnally did a new translation which was published by Penguin Books in 2005. I am re-reading the entire book 1144 pages. This translation is much easier to follow. The original from 1920 used a lot of English words that are not in commun use today. If anyone has had problems trying to get into this book, I'd suggest they tr...more
Rebecca Huston
One of the first real historical novels that I read as a teen -- and still do as an adult. Set in Norway in the 14th century, the tale of Kristen from her childhood to old age is a classic as she makes an impetuous mistake that may or may not be the right choice. Full of joys and heartache, this is a wonderful book, and one that I heartily recommend.

For the complete review, please go here:
http://www.bubblews.com/news/6647222-...
Natasha
Undset's trilogy is an astounding masterpiece illustrating the profound interconnectedness of the human tapestry, the effects of sin on both the sinner and society, and ultimately provides a moving portrait of a young girl as she makes her way through adolescence, motherhood, and finally old age in the difficult environment of 14th-century Norway. A beautifully-yet-simply-written and immersive hallmark of 20th century literature.
Katherine
Complex, beautiful, intensely moving, sometimes heartbreaking, and completely unforgettable. This trilogy contains many passages that are as enlightening and emotionally relevant today as any book of historical fiction I've ever read. Definitely worth the investment of time required.

Reader's note: In my opinion the second book did tend to drag a bit, but stick with it, the third book more than makes up for it.
Paula
This is an unforgettable trilogy situated in 14th-century Norway. It is the life story of an upper-class woman whose thoughtful, religious, questioning, and self-aware nature contrasts with the reckless, wild, and dashing actions of the man she meets, loves, marries, bears children for, clashes with, and can never bear to lose.
Kristel
Review: A story set in the 1300’s in Norway, telling the story of Kristin Lavransdatter from her childhood as the spoiled daughter of Lavrans to her old age in the cloister during the Black Plague.

There are three parts to this book; the Wreath, The Wife, and The Cross.

First Sentence When the earthly goods of Ivar Gjesling the Younger of Sundbu were divided up in the year 1306, his property at Sil was given to his daughter Ragnfrid and her husband Lavrans Bjorgulfson.

Last words Without thinking...more
Sara
Wow- what a book! I think I’ve developed arthritis in my wrists from holding this tome too much over the past two weeks, that and thank goodness it was not a hardback because otherwise I’d have several black and blues across my face from dropping it while in bed.

However, it was all worth it.

Undset’s novel is actually three in one and I think it really should be read this way instead of breaks between since they are so seamless: The Wreath, The Wife, and The Cross.

The Wreath was by far my favo...more
Poiema
I only intended to read the first book in this trilogy, and was so "hooked" by that time that I read straight through the entire series. The character development was so rich; one would think we might be strangers to a young woman of 14th century Norway but we come to see that the headstrong Kristen faces the same choices and temptations of her modern sisters. Why is it that good girls are attracted to bad boys? It is an age old story. Kristen gets her man, against her godly Father's better judg...more
Dav'ne (Davney)
12-17-10 11:05 p.m. FINISHED! VOILA! I was late for work this morning as I had to finish the last 34 pages; and then a tanker was overturned on 99 so we had to go all the way south to Tukwila, around to I5 to get to work! I got there at 9:45, but it was all worth it! YAY!

12-17-10 - Update: On page 1087, 34 more to go. My next venture into Sigrid Undset's novels will be "Jenny"...have any of you read it?

12-10-2010 - Update: On Page 911...213 more pages. I love this book! Just learned that Sigrid...more
Ann
I was really looking forward to reading this new translation by Tiina Nunally after hearing it praised so highly compared to the first translator, who was raked over the coals in recent reviews for using artificially archaic language that the author never intended. I really enjoyed the first translation, although often found it a trial to plow through. I was surprised to be a bit disappointed in the new translation of The Wreath, the first volume in the trilogy, as lacking the texture and depth...more
Christine
I am reading this huge book. This is what other have said:

"We consider it the best book our judges have ever selected and it has been better received by our subscribers than any other book," says the Book-of-the-Month Club. -- Review

A landmark among historical novels, Kristin Lavransdatter is part of the body of work that won Sigrid Undset the Nobel Prize for 1928. This trilogy of more than one thousand pages follows its title character through her life in fourteenth-century Scandinavia. It is a...more
Sydney329
This seemingly little known trilogy deserves much more recognition than it receives. Despite winning a noble prize in literature, it seems Kristen Lavransdatter has been all but forgotten. Perhaps that is because the story is so massive- I admit it is quite an undertaking. But what other book describes an entire life as thoroughly as Kristen Lavransdatter? Set against a backdrop of 14th century Norway, you'll follow Kristen's story from her childhood all the way to her death as an elderly woman....more
Cindy
This book is set in the 1300s in Norway about a woman from childhood until death and yet I could relate to her feelings and emotions completely. It really is a wonderful trilogy. After I read it, it was my Christmas present to so many of my women friends that year.
rachel
I loved this trilogy. Norway in the Middle Ages; I would have never thought of it. Romance, morality, politics, peasant life, childbirth, throw in a convent and a little black plague... It's really great. And real geography, too!
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500 Great Books B...: Kristin Lavransdatter - Sigrid Undset 10 25 Oct 03, 2014 02:10PM  
How long will you give a book before quiting? 5 21 May 24, 2014 09:07AM  
Early church references 2 6 May 24, 2014 08:59AM  
Around the World ...: Chel recommends Kristen Lavransdatter 3 16 Dec 01, 2011 05:28PM  
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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...
The Wreath (Kristin Lavransdatter, #1) The Wife (Kristin Lavransdatter, #2) The Cross (Kristin Lavransdatter, #3) Gunnar's Daughter The Axe (The Master of Hestviken, #1)

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“All my days I have longed equally to travel the right road and to take my own errant path.” 1833 likes
“Feelings of longing seemed to burst from her heart; they ran in all directions, like streams of blood, seeking out paths to all the places in the wide landscape where she had lived, to all her sons roaming through the world, to all her dead lying under the earth.” 8 likes
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