Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “De thuisreis” as Want to Read:
De thuisreis
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

De thuisreis

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  369 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
Een in Engeland wonende IJslandse vrouw van middelbare leeftijd die nog een jaar te leven heeft, keert terug naar haar geboorteplaats om in het reine te komen met haar verleden.
Paperback, 260 pages
Published 2005 by Niigh & Van Ditmar (first published 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my scandinavian friends
Lyrical and magical. Olafsson captures the mood and personality of the frozen tundra of Iceland. A story of a dying woman's trek back to her homeland. More inspirational then sad. I loved it.
I know that people say that Proust wrote best about the nature of memory, but not being able to confirm or deny this yet (working on it), I'm going to go ahead and say that the Icelanders have my vote on this count so far. Much in the same fashion that Angels of the Universe broke memories into small, discreet episodes which were relayed in a more elliptical than linear fashion, The Journey Home finds its protagonist collaging together a series remembrances as she travels home to Iceland for the ...more
Rachel Hirstwood
Can't decide if this is a 3star or 4star book. I didn't like the beginning of it. It has very short chapters and the time scale is rather hard to follow. It seemed the protagonist woke up three times in three different places apparently without connection. Eventually it began to flow better and turned into a quite sweet and touching story of a woman coming to terms with loss and grief from her past as she is faced with an implied - although not fully mentioned or described - terminal illness. It ...more
Linda Lipko
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a gut wrenching, page turner. This is not a fast paced emotional story.

This is a poetic, marvelous tale of Disa who recently received word that she has a year to live thus prompting her to travel back home to Iceland.

Living in the English countryside, managing a lovely bed and breakfast, Disa is content with her life. The author paints a calm, aesthetic portrait of flowers and rolling hills, of food prepared well, of clean, quiet restful rooms and a tranquil lifestyle.

Leaving her wel
I can appreciate a leisurely pace in storytelling, but this was a little too slow for me. I felt for the main character, but ultimately did not like her, so that dampened the book for me, too. I do applaud the author's ability to deftly weave the past and the present together in the narrative.
A good read; not my favorite of Olafsson's, but good. Probably for class.
Mar 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like Halldor Laxness's Atom Station, this book revolves around a lot of the fallout from World War II as it involved Iceland; only here the focus is even more personal. The narrator is a woman on her way home--though not for the first time. It's a testament to Olafsson's skill that he was able to weave several plotlines involving the same characters but in different eras together so seamlessly.

I say "seamlessly," but the book was definitely easier to read in long sittings than it was to read in
Mar 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reread-in-2011
I first read this book in 2005, and hoped that after reading it again, I'd be able to pass it along to make some room on my overcrowded bookshelves. No such luck. Several pages in, I was hooked again.
The writing is so graceful that you don't mind the slow pacing as the story unfolds. As Disa ponders her trip from England to her native Iceland, you can hear the crackle of the ice outside, smell the apples she's baking, hear the murmur of her guests in the next room. Much of it seems dreamlike, an
The first third of this elegant novel left me oddly ambivalent, but it grew on me. It deals with the life-and-death moments of ordinary existence with restraint, realistic ambiguity and tenderness. Olaf Olafsson doesn't waste a word, and the words are tasty:

"Then the gaze of my Maker left me in peace, as did his justice -- his justice which is nothing but punishment, his love which is nothing but contempt, his touch which is a blow, his mercy which is death. Then my Maker left me in peace and th
Mar 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disa and her gay friend Anthony have kept an inn in England for years. Given 18 months to live, Disa decides to travel back to her home in Iceland one last time. Her trip is told with flashbacks to her life interspersed, sometimes making it hard to be sure what is happening when. We learn that she was engaged to a Jewish man who lost his life when he went back to Germany to try to get his parents out. But until the very end of the book, we don’t learn the real reason for her journey. The book ha ...more
This character-driven novel is a qiet, introspective look at the life of Asdis "Disa" Jonsdottir as she prepares herself and Anthony for her death. She and Anthony have been running a hotel from his ancestral home, where Disa as the chef has been offering excellent food to their clientele. Disa has a terminal illness and has promised to return to her native Iceland before she dies to put to rest the ghosts of her past. A beautifully rendered book about family, love, persistence, and regret.
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this because I was intrigued by the author's background and wanted to learn more about Icelandic culture. The book was really well written and constructed. However, when I reached the end, I couldn't figure out why the author had gone to all the trouble of writing it. The surprise ending didn't seem like that much of a surprise, not such a big deal. The characters didn't stay with me for more than a few days after finishing the book. I had hoped for greater moral or emotional depth.
May 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book, but not a great book and I guess I was hoping for great. The story of a dying woman in Scotland who decides to journey home to the village in Iceland where she grew up. In the process she faces many demons from her past. My main problem was that the character wasn't entirely likable, which I suppose made her more human, but I was thinking that with all she had been through she would have been more humane.
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I agree with the reviewers who have recognised a similarity in style to Kazuo Ishiguro's work, which is one of the reasons this book was so enjoyable. Olaf has created a complex, stubborn character who, for all her faults, is admirably stoic and ultimately wise. Memories are recalled, seemingly at random, but in a way that gives cohesiveness and depth to the narrative
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I agree with the reviewers who have recognised a similarity in style to Kazuo Ishiguro's work, which is one of the reasons this book was so enjoyable. Olaf has created a complex, stubborn character who, for all her faults, is admirably stoic and ultimately wise. Memories are recalled, seemingly at random, but in a way that gives cohesiveness and depth to the narrative.
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy reading an Olafsson book. His vivid imagery pulls you into the story.
Dec 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quietly powerful. Evocative of England and Iceland. A series of journeys "home."
Marissa Morrison
An Icelandic woman who saw great disappointments in her love life settles down to run an English inn with a homosexual male friend. She's the proud and willful head chef. Now, as she has about a year left to live, she sets off to Iceland to see a special someone, on a journey that opens the floodgates of bad memories.

It's a nicely told, quiet story.

I wish I'd known at the start what era we were in, so that I could have accurately pictured the protagonist. In my mind she was maybe 65, but it tur
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, beautiful writing. Disa Jonsdottir runs a small hotel in England with her friend Anthony. She plans to leave on a trip back to her home in Iceland. We do not really know why until the end of the novel, but her thoughts of the past, her descriptions of her trip, of her passion for cooking, of her lover Jakob, are all told in a style so fine, so arresting one reads along with pleasure at every sentence. That Olafsson, a man, can so lovingly describe the thoughts of a woman is a singular ...more
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: only-for-me
Each sentence is a masterpiece. Slow reading because of lyrical style but truly enjoyable tale of Icelandic woman returning home to die and memories overlapping along the journey.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Boring with a capital B. At first, I was intrigued by the writing style and the lack of information (I initially thought this to be building suspense) but it flattened for me. It was challenging to find out when each short chapter was taking place as it jumped a lot and no dates were ever given. I had to read the dust jacket again just to know what the plot was. The dust jacket seems to take the main theme that this is a lady who is dying and trying to make amends but I wouldn't have realized sh ...more
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nordic, fiction
I do say this a lot lately... It is not fiction's problem that I can't find myself in it anymore. It took me a long time to program myself into anything that isn't romances, then I started reading fiction over fiction and then when I transferred into non-fiction I completely changed my reading habits. My favorite fiction is the quiet one, but obviously during this part of my reading journey I tend to capitulate a lot of fictional heads. Not because I am superficial but because currently I can't ...more
Feb 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The novel is told in first person style. The main character Disa, kind of reminds me of the butler from "Remains of The Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro. Both of the characters are very proper and English (except that Disa is really Icelandic). The other similarity is that the stories take place in roughly the same time period. Spanning the beginning of WWII and its after math. I wanted to like Disa's character, but just like the butler (I can't remember his name) in "Remains of The Day" they were both to ...more
Luke Sherwood
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Icelandic chef travels from London to Reykjavik in A Journey Home - she travels in a literal sense, and as in quality fiction, her journey takes on a metaphoric dimension as well. Her journey’s meaning is revealed to us in the course of her first-person narrative, and along the way the author treats us to some remarkable effects. This is a bewitching book, with its low-key diction and its high-strung, independent heroine.

Her name is Asdis, and is called Disa for short. In her life she goes he
Title: The Journey Home: A woman makes one last journey home to face what she left behind.


Disa is at the end of her life. Her doctor has given her, at the outside, a year to live. The disease that is killing her doesn't matter, its finality makes her realize that she can no longer put off dealing with a past she did not want to relive. So Disa sets off on a journey to her native Iceland to see the outcome of that terrible time during WW2 when she found happiness for a while and then lost i
William Herschel
I hate the blurbs and quotes on the back of books. They seem to use up all the fitting adjectives and then when I want to describe the book I think I'm copying or stealing from fancy newspapers and book reviewers.

So this time I will piece together the more fitting ones: quiet, lyrical, bleak yet utterly beautiful, as lucid as a sheet of ice (okay, I wouldn't have been able to think of that one).

The book is composed of short little chapters, interweaving between the present and the past. Our main
Angel 一匹狼
Nov 28, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"The Journey Home" tells the story of a woman that... well, is on her journey home.

Got it?

All the while remembering things from her past, her time in England and Iceland and the people she has met in her life.

Sadly, Olafsson fails miserably in making the story minimally interesting. And let's not start with the character of the woman, who is as annoying and unlikable as they come. It is that the story of her life is not very interesting either. Olafsson falls for the cheap tricks (oh, that twist
Kay Wright
May 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A woman learns she is dying and takes a final trip back to her native Iceland while she has the strength. That's about it. But of course it isn't. Her life story plays out through the journey and we learn much about her. The writing is very spare, you never learn what she looks like, how old she is or even when she is taking this trip although I would guess it must be in the late 50's. You do learn what the world looks like through her eyes, at the inn where she lives and cooks with her parner R ...more
Aug 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Disa unwinds slowly through a series of shifts among different places and times in her life. Olafsson's story of a woman growing up in remote northern Iceland, rebelling against her parents, moving to England, finding an unsuitable beau and moving forward until near the end of her life, takes time to find its footing. The latter half of the novel, once the narrative and the time shifts create an understandable pattern, is more successful than the first half. Throughout the author re ...more
Sally Atwell Williams
I liked this book. The story is told by the main character, Disa. Disa lived in Iceland during her childhood, and was a very determined young woman. She loved to cook and after finishing her schooling, was hired by a restaurant owner where she increased his business. However, she went to England and was able to get a chef's position in London.

The story is woven back and forth, between England and Finland, between relationships which took place at different time periods, but then become part of
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Stone Tree
  • Svar við bréfi Helgu
  • The Pets
  • The Swan
  • Paradise Reclaimed
  • The Day is Dark (Þóra Guðmundsdóttir, #4)
  • The Tricking of Freya
  • Last Places: A Journey in the North
  • Season of the Witch (Einar, #4)
  • From the Mouth of the Whale
  • The Sea Road
  • 101 Reykjavik
  • Midwyf: Liza
  • Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland
  • Himnaríki og helvíti
  • Into Oblivion (Inspector Erlendur)
  • Devil's Island
  • Svartfugl
Olaf Olafsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1962. He studied physics as a Wien Scholar at Brandeis University. He is the author of three previous novels, The Journey Home, Absolution and Walking Into the Night, and a story collection, Valentines. His books have been published to critical acclaim in more than twenty languages. He is the recipient of the O. Henry Award and the Icelandic Literary ...more
More about Olaf Olafsson...

Share This Book