Perhaps the most enjoyable play I've ever read. I'm usually not a big fan of reading plays, yet I still end up reading quite a lot of them. For this p...morePerhaps the most enjoyable play I've ever read. I'm usually not a big fan of reading plays, yet I still end up reading quite a lot of them. For this particular one though, I actually forgot I was reading a play. There was no difficulty keeping track of characters and the story is interesting. Also, the man (BB!) has the most awesome name in the history of Scandinavian literature, so he needs to be read, if only for that.(less)
This book has quite a couple of things in common with Jenny, but it's somewhat more melodramatic and not at all as artfully written. A quick and prett...moreThis book has quite a couple of things in common with Jenny, but it's somewhat more melodramatic and not at all as artfully written. A quick and pretty amusing read though ;) (less)
Some classics are classics for a reason. That being said, I don't understand why this book isn't more famous, at least in Sweden (it may ver...more4,5 stars.
Some classics are classics for a reason. That being said, I don't understand why this book isn't more famous, at least in Sweden (it may very well be more famous in Norway). Perhaps it's the fatalistic touch, the melodrama, and the female main character that pose a problem - because I had never heard of it before I found it a flea market 3 or so years ago. Undset is of course überknown in Scandinavia for Kristin Lavransdatter (which shares some traits with Jenny), and I read that one at age 14, but I kind of wish I could have read this one earlier as well.
At the same time, it's very fitting to read it now. The book features Jenny, who is 28 (my age!), living temporarily in Rome, pursuing a career as an artist, and who struggles to *be* a person, to be social, to fall in love, etc. This is something as interesting as a book about a woman (hence a book about romance, we all know that), but about a woman who is unable to fall in love. And it's not a coming-of-age type of book, because she's already very much an adult. She has already come out of her shell, but that doesn't necessarily mean that everything will go smoothly from there.
I really, really enjoyed reading this. Undset is a fantastic author; no cardboard characters, no pointless passages, no misplaced lines or weird pacing, everything is really perfectly crafted and thought through. People talk a lot about ideas, but they never, ever sound cliché. People talk naturally, that is they interrupt themselves and each other, they don't finish their sentences, they ramble and lose track of what they were saying. In the dialogue, the only disruptive element for a modern reader is the old-fashioned danified Bokmål!. The humor - what little there is of it in a book of this serious a nature - is still funny today! Not everything in the book is actually featured on the pages; all of a sudden, a new chapter begins, and we understand immediately that some quite big events have taken place, but we are left to imagine them for ourselves. Also, perspectives change throughout the book and there's nothing confusing or unnatural about it.
Extra points, of course, for what was probably quite radical views on women and men and relation between the sexes expressed by various characters in the book (notably Gunnar).
Do they still make authors like these nowadays?(less)
I've got really mixed feelings about this book. Ordinarily, it's not the kind of book I'd buy, but I forgot to say no to it from a book club I'm only...moreI've got really mixed feelings about this book. Ordinarily, it's not the kind of book I'd buy, but I forgot to say no to it from a book club I'm only a member of for the sake of their introductory packet. So I ended up paying 55 dollars for this. Hence I had to read it, and then give it to my mother for Christmas. To get some value out of it.
Big problem - I got a damned translation. Last time I tried reading a Norwegian translation of a book I had to stop after 100 pages and find a French translation instead. This time I pushed through, but GAH!, why can't people in this country translate in such a manner that it feels like the book was written in Norwegian to begin with? I could hear the English behind the words here, imagine the phrases, be annoyed to death by all the vocatives in direct speech (who speaks like that here?? NO ONE I KNOW!), the weird expressions, everything. Fortunately (hah!), you get used to it. By page 400, I was OK with it.
So - the story. It's a rather interesting story, and a complex one. For 200 pages you don't know what to believe, and looking back, it seems like a WOW kind of story. Complex. All that. Only when I was reading it, things were a little bit too obvious. It was a bit too obvious that you were supposed to hate Amy, or Nick, in this or that chapter. Like the reader was given a little bit too much help, a somewhat too rough shove in the "right" direction. I find it fascinating that I didn't like any of the versions of any of the characters. Nick is mostly stupid and slow. Amy, version 1, is annoying. Amy, version 2 (view spoiler)[ is a disturbing psycho, which is fun, but at the same time annoying as hell. (hide spoiler)] I like the emphasis on how pretty she is, and on how, after gaining 6kg to her size 2, she can no longer call herself "thin". I'm confused - was this written in Russia?
Also, the book is long. Perhaps it has to be, in order for everything to unfold at the right pace, but since I was trying to rush through it, I would have wanted it minus ca 100 pages. The whole thing about me not liking crime stories at all didn't help, either.
The best thing about it? The ending. That was actually very good. That's that third star right there. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Awesome book. I have faith in Scandinavia again. I started with book 2 in the "series", but that doesn't really matter, and I will definitely be readi...moreAwesome book. I have faith in Scandinavia again. I started with book 2 in the "series", but that doesn't really matter, and I will definitely be reading the other books as well. This one contains some of my favorite ingredients in literature: unapologetic, intelligent and morally dubious protagonists, consistent use of a certain style of language (I don't care what style people use to write, and in this case it's what I would refer to as "raw language", as long as it isn't boring or feels faked), humor and weird stuff in general. You pretty much know if you're going to like this book from page one. The cucumber comment (on page 1) kind of gives you a hint or two regarding the general feel of it. (less)
Close one between 3 and 4 stars. The drawbacks pull this one down to 3, but it could easily have been a 4 star book.
This book does not have a traditio...moreClose one between 3 and 4 stars. The drawbacks pull this one down to 3, but it could easily have been a 4 star book.
This book does not have a traditional female main character. She's not very typical in any way, at least not for "modern women". She is kind of childlike, ingratiating and ridiculously devoted to her husband, largely ignorant about the world and happy about it, and very content to just be at home, to shut herself in. Not that she doesn't seem to be able to interact socially with people, she just prefers to be at home and does not try to change it. NICE. I liked this story most when it remained in the small world of this woman, her thoughts and ideas, her worries. The way it handled lesbian encounters was also highly refreshing. No fuss, no "OMG AM I GAY?":s, etc. When it took the step out into the "big world", I was a bit disappointed, and some of the realism went out of the book. I just don't see any of that which happened during her trip as very plausible. The plausible version would be utter boredom and not meeting a single person for a month.
A slower pace of the "breakdown", and more insinuations about what's to come is something that could have made this book truly great. There's a certain mood in the beginning that's just brilliant. Everything is happy, sunny, beautiful, and you think "wow, really, they have that much sex?", but you get small hints that this won't last. That mood should have been kept for much longer, explored much more. Skip the journeying part (possibly with the exception of the Italy-period). I've been on tons of journeys, they never change me! The main character in the end of the book hardly reminds of the one we meet in the beginning.
Also, I wish the change in "Rune" would have been the result of something else than... what it was.(less)
This one of the most famous modern Scandinavian books out there, and for anyone with an interest in Scandinavia or Scandinavian literature, it's a mus...moreThis one of the most famous modern Scandinavian books out there, and for anyone with an interest in Scandinavia or Scandinavian literature, it's a must-read. I've heard about it for so long, bought it, forget I bought it, wished I had bought it, then found it again, and finally actually started reading it. It's been hyped up for quite some time, so I was expecting absolute awesomeness. I was possibly a bit disappointed, but not by much, and without the hype I would have been thoroughly impressed. So I'm going with that.
Per Petterson is the kind of author who deserves to get rich on writing books, because he can really, reeeally write. There's no pretentious crap (which I feel happens so easily in Swedish/Norwegian), the text just flows so very nicely - all the words are placed at just the right place. The narrative is really slow, mellow, nature bound and utterly Scandinavian (in the classic sense). At the same time, Petterson manages to create a story that makes you go "Oh" every now and then. There's an element of surprise in all the slowness. The different time periods are, furthermore, perfectly interwoven, and the pacing is impeccable.
One thing I did notice, however, is that if I would have read this in a language I were not fluent in, I would probably have been frustrated with passages related to workmanship, horses, felling trees, etc. There's lots of specialized vocabulary, but when you actually understand all of the text, you realize when such things aren't actually crucial to the general understanding. If you're not fluent in Norwegian, however, then this could definitely be challenging.(less)
I like this book, but not enough to give it four stars. It's a beautiful story, but the main protagonist is a rather weak excuse for a man, who never...moreI like this book, but not enough to give it four stars. It's a beautiful story, but the main protagonist is a rather weak excuse for a man, who never manages to say what needs to be said, and I just can't make myself like those kinds of characters. (less)
I'm not a great fan of books dealing with criminals who you are supposed to feel sorry for because they had no choice, it wasn't their fault they ende...moreI'm not a great fan of books dealing with criminals who you are supposed to feel sorry for because they had no choice, it wasn't their fault they ended up like that. The protagonist in this book is obsessed by the idea of who is responsible for his life ending up the way it did, and even though I did end up feeling sympathy for him (which is amazing considering he is both a bit repulsive and incredibly feeble) in retrospect I find that kind of attitude incredibly annoying. But - it's Bjørneboe, and he's kind of my hero. (less)
Ages ago I saw the movie or tv-series based on this book, and I loved it. I still remember parts of it, and even though I don't really read crime book...moreAges ago I saw the movie or tv-series based on this book, and I loved it. I still remember parts of it, and even though I don't really read crime books, I decided that I wanted to read this particular one. However, I think reading it in Norwegian was a mistake. The dialogue felt really weird and void of character (everyone speaks in exactly the same manner) and the use of pronouns and sentence structure just felt incredibly unnatural. I may have given the book four stars if I had read it in the original and it had felt more natural. The Norwegian text lacks flow, and feels exactly like what it is - a translation. Translations shouldn't make you think about the fact that they are translations, and I caught myself rethinking exclamations and certain phrases in English when they struck me as odd and non-idiomatic.
The story itself is very interesting and it's a very easy read. I really like how it goes from "everything is obvious" to "what the hell actually happened?" and then slowly puts the pieces back in place. (less)
I'd like to give this book 3.5. It's really an interesting book, and a very rich one which could be analyzed to death. But - it didn't grab me, I coul...moreI'd like to give this book 3.5. It's really an interesting book, and a very rich one which could be analyzed to death. But - it didn't grab me, I couldn't not put it down, etc., and some parts of it were a bit tedious. I will remember it though! Also, extra points for the structure of the book!(less)