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

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  5,731 Ratings  ·  754 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
cloth, 1069 pages
Published June 27th 1951 by Random House USA Inc. (first published 1920)
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Neil White The newer translation by Tiina Nunally is preferred by most readers, I think - it's quite beautiful and modern sounding, very straightforward and more…moreThe newer translation by Tiina Nunally is preferred by most readers, I think - it's quite beautiful and modern sounding, very straightforward and more like Undset's original prose. It reads like 20th century fiction, basically. Some people prefer the older original translation by Charles Archer and J.S. Scott, but it's rather archaic sounding - lots of 'thee's and 'thou's and 'methinks', etc. It was a stylistic choice to reflect the 14th century of the novel, but a lot of people think it's distracting and does a disservice to Undset's prose. I can see why they thought that might be an interesting choice, but I think the Nunally is far superior.(less)
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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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
May 14, 2015 Dolors rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who don't shrink from the cross they have to bear
Shelves: read-in-2016
A historical epic divided in three installments – The Wreath, The Wife and The Cross – that unfolds the life of Kristin Lavrandsatter, a woman of noble ancestry in Medieval Norway, from birth to death. Undset paints a faithful portrayal of an era marked by turbulent dynastic wars and the latent paganism ingrained in the Christian values of a very rigid society, representative of its time. The three novels probe deep into the human, moral and religious conflicts that befall on the protagonist and ...more
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 i
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
Aug 25, 2008 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 10, 2011 Hesper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 20, 2009 Anthony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 05, 2008 Werner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All historical fiction fans
In my recent review of Heather Day Gilbert's God's Daughter, I commented that her style in some ways reminds me of Undset's. Perhaps that's a function of the fact that both ladies' writing is shaped by a Christian world-view (Undset was an adult convert to Roman Catholicism), both focus their historical writing on medieval Scandinavian culture, both do a great job of getting inside their character's heads, and both created strong female protagonists. (Though Undset's other major work, which I re ...more
[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
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
Jul 31, 2014 Geoff marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I just bought this book with money and later I am going to read it with my eyes and brain.
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
I started getting interested in Kristin Lavransdatter this past winter. I would love to go to Europe someday, and I wanted to learn more about Europe in the Middle Ages. If you want to read about medieval times without getting bored, this book is a great choice. It is the Norwegian Gone With the Wind. I am glad I spent the summer reading this book, since it included so much history and such unique characters. (By the way, reading about the Middle Ages during the summer is a unique experience. I ...more
Apr 23, 2017 Irene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in three volumes, this trilogy chronicles an early 14th century Norwegian woman, mistress of a substantial estate, from childhood through her death half a century later. Undset is a Nobel Prize in Literature winner, so it is not surprising that her prose is solid, although not particularly poetic. What I really enjoyed about this novel was the opportunity to be immersed in a time whose daily cultural details I know little about. This was published nearly a century ago, so I ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
As an omnibus, the length of this classic trilogy is daunting; it was on my to-read list for years before I decided to read just the first, 300-page book. Of course that was excellent and I soon read the rest of the trilogy. While I understand the omnibus packaging – the later books assume knowledge of the earlier ones such that it is akin to one three-volume novel – for me, reading three individual novels worked best.

Kristin Lavransdatter is the life story of one woman, and the people closest t
Nov 15, 2012 Valerie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 19, 2008 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Rick Slane
Sep 10, 2015 Rick Slane rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Men who want to understand traditional women a little more

I read the "unauthentic archaic language" original translation by Charles Archer that is "not true to...original Norwegian text" according to Ashley's review and I did almost give up after 20 or 40 pages but I kept going anyway. It's so good now I'm tracking down the Nunnally translation.

This work is very Catholic and traditional in it's examination of morality. It is written from a woman's point of view and this makes for much of the trilogy's uniqueness. Her father arranges her a secure marr

Oct 28, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 03, 2008 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Erik Graff
Jan 09, 2009 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Apr 15, 2013 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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.
Mar 25, 2014 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bingo-2016
An epic novel of a women's life in 14th century Norway.
Che tortura! Ne avrei sospeso la lettura già dopo i primi cinque capitoli, ma mi ero imposta di finirlo sia perché lo stavo leggendo insieme ad altri utenti sia perché speravo che migliorasse. Della Undset avevo già letto Jenny e mi era piaciuto nonostante una partenza lenta che non prometteva nulla di buono.

Tutto il libro ruota intorno a Kristin figlia di Lavrans e seguiamo la sua vita dall'infanzia fino alla morte; la storia è ambientata nella Norvegia medievale. Kristin è il personaggio più
Clare Cannon
Apr 29, 2010 Clare Cannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, adults
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,
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:
Feb 26, 2008 Marian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 providing 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.
Jan 27, 2017 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Viața unei femei - copilăria, adolescența, dragostea, maternitatea, copiii, maturitatea, pierderea identității și bătrânețea.
4.5 stars rounded down. Loved the entire family saga, but the emphasis on sinning and praying and God's will was a bit heavy at times.
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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 about Sigrid Undset...

Other Books in the Series

Kristin Lavransdatter (3 books)
  • The Wreath (Kristin Lavransdatter, #1)
  • The Wife (Kristin Lavransdatter, #2)
  • The Cross (Kristin Lavransdatter, #3)

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“All my days I have longed equally to travel the right road and to take my own errant path.” 1869 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.” 15 likes
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