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The Wife

(Kristin Lavransdatter #2)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  2,731 ratings  ·  241 reviews
In Kristin Lavransdatter (1920-1922), Sigrid Undset interweaves political, social, and religious history with the daily aspects of family life to create a colorful, richly detailed tapestry of Norway during the fourteenth-century. The trilogy, however, is more than a journey into the past. Undset's own life—her familiarity with Norse sagas and folklore and with a wide rang
Paperback, 402 pages
Published November 1st 1999 by Penguin Classics (first published 1921)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Kristin Lavransdatter 2: Husfrue = The Wife (Kristin Lavransdatter #2), Sigrid Undset
Kristin Lavransdatter is a trilogy of historical novels written by Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset. The individual novels are Kransen (The Wreath), first published in 1920, Husfrue (The Wife), published in 1921, and Korset (The Cross), published in 1922. Kransen and Husfrue were translated from the original Norwegian as The Bridal Wreath and The Mistress of Husaby, respectively, in the first English translation by
Cindy Rollins
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, bookclub, reread
Kristin Lavransdatter begins to pick up the pace with The Mistress of Husaby. The writing is beautiful. As a mother of 8 sons, I think Kristin's reflections and thoughts on motherhood are straight out of our own hearts. At times wrenching, at other times maddening, by the time we get to The Mistress of Husaby we understand why this trilogy won the Noble Prize for Literature.
If you lost interest while reading The Bridal Wreath. Keep going. This is WRITING.
The second installment in the Kristin Lavransdatter series by Sigrid Undset is a marvelous continuation of this story of medieval life in Norway that began with The Bridal Wreath. Whatever sense of unfinished business I had at the end of The Wreath was satisfied in this book.

After her precarious start to marriage with Erlend Nikulausson, we find Kirstin both paying the price and reaping the rewards of her decision. She has to settle into life with a less than responsible husband and seven child
“But never had she felt so clearly as in this hour that it was on her father and mother all the life of this home had rested. What ever hidden troubles they might have had to struggle with, warmth and help, peace and safety had flowed out from them to all that lived about them.”


It is my own mother that I thought of constantly while reading this. Her grandparents came from a small farming town near Bergen, Norway, and she loved to pour over dense histories of the country. (All I saw in them
Clif Hostetler
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
This is the second book of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy. In my review of the The Wreath , the first book of the trilogy, I indicated I didn't feel optimistic about the marriage that took place at the end of the first book. This second book of the trilogy focuses on their married life (about 16 years covered by this book) during which they have seven children. The husband ended up not being as bad as I had feared. Based on fourteenth century expectations he could be rated as a mostly good ...more
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
3 1/2 stars

# 2 in the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy and to my mind a bit of an improvement on the first. Probably because as Kristin grows up and takes on the responsibility of being mistress of the Husaby estate we learn more about the day to day life of those times in a way that we really couldn't when she was a young girl and just running around deciding who she was going to marry.

Kristin is a bit of a contradictory character. After her flightiness of the previous book I wasn't prepared for h
Barksdale Penick
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
The second book in the Kristin Lavransdatter series somehow reappeared in my life several months after I finished the first one, which I had loved. This tale is set in medieval Norway, which was united and relatively prosperous and had turned to Christianity recently enough that the old gods still held some sway here and there. Kristin is now married to a flawed man, but they love each other and raise 6 boys. I found the beginning a little slow, with debates about religion and faith going on for ...more
3.5 stars

I think I prefer the first book of the trilogy because I got easily bored with some of the more religious passages in this book, which are quite many. While that is completely understandable, I got bored since few characters learned anything from repetition of the same old arguments from the first book. I still love Lavrans and wish we got to see more of him, but the story follows his daughter Kristin, so tough luck.

The main issue I have with this book is that Kristin doesn't know when
Katie Schuermann
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Undset parades the consciences of ordinary people - mothers, fathers, spouses, servants, civic leaders, priests, and even children - before our eyes in this second installment of the Kristin Lavransdatter tome, and true-to-life, the experience is both exhilarating and exhausting.

Kristin and I finally bonded over our shared faith in the first third of this book, but I found myself having to abandon her company on many occasions because of the company she keeps. So many sexual sins to confront pa
Aug 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this even more than The Wreath...The characters really came alive for me in their complexity, and new depths to their personalities were revealed, often as the characters were experiencing revelation themselves. It was interesting to learn so much more about Kristin's parents and their relationship, and to watch Kristin grow to understand more about them. As we mature we are increasingly (hopefully!) able to see others apart from their relationship to ourselves and their importance to ...more
Rebekah Theilen
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh Erlend, you fool! How is it I can still love you so?

Book two, The Wife, is not as quick-paced or dramatic as book one, The Wreath. Book two settles into a slower pace with Kristin Lavransdatter’s marriage and her life-stage of wife and mother at Husaby, though we see less of her outer life than I would have expected. There are lovely moments here and there containing spot-on insights into those deep thoughts of motherhood, as well as palpable true-to-life details of painful, milk-engorged bre
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
Recommended to booklady by: Carol Thelan
It's not hard to see why/how Kristin Lavransdatter (the trilogy) won the 1928 Nobel Prize for Literature. This saga is amazing in so many respects: authentic attention to detail, moving narrative and deep insight into the human psyche. I am longing for someone who has read the book, to discuss it with me.

The author has done a phenomenal job presenting the slower-paced, farming-based, medieval life, centered on traditional values marked by a calendar of saint's days. She describes the local folk
This book covers in great detail the Norway of the 14th century. Kristin gives birth to 7 sons, her husband is still reckless but tries hard. Their love is apparent even though they are both flawed.
The funeral preparation for Kristin's father was a strange highlight.
As in the first book, there were long sections of dialogue or internal thoughts mainly from Kristin and Erlend. Then occasionally there would be a major incident to bring life back into the story. However for me, there was a bit too
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the pleasures of reading these books has been that the translation is so exquisitely done and naturally written, it's easy to think that it's a book originally in English. Translated works don't always so freely allow an authentic connection with the text, and that's one of the joys here. Apparently, there is a truly enormous difference between the original English translation of the 1920s (Archer) and this refreshing, enjoyable modern one of the 2000s (Nunnally). So, do mind how you go.

Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
3.5 stars

I expected to like this volume even more than the previous one, because in general I prefer content I’ve seen less often, and the story of a woman making her way as a wife and mother is much less common in my reading than the story of her falling in love and trying to avoid arranged marriage. But I actually prefer the first volume. The Wreath has its almost melodramatic moments, but it definitely kept me interested, while The Wife – covering about 15 years of Kristin’s married life – sl
Alex Marshall
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Somewhat to my surprise, I finished this, part 2 of "Kristin Lavransdatter". Surprised, because in one way it's chick-lit -- 1920s mediaeval Norwegian chick-lit. Besides, it's heavy on the Church, sin retribution etc, and very slow and detailed. But the detail has its own fascination; if you've ever wondered what 14th-century Norwegian farming families ate for dinner, and what they wore while eating it, and who sat where, and what they talked about, not to mention how long they sat there and whe ...more
Tracey the Bookworm
This is the second book in the trilogy.

I feel that Undset has done a good job of immersing the reader in the life of people in this time period, be it poor or rich. Definitely 'calamitous' times.

Religion was a staff to people then when life was so fragile and insecure. I am a christian but not a Roman Catholic and so it is interesting to me how the people sought intercession through those that had gone before. I believe it makes sense that the people would find solace from this.

Kristin feels dee
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-books
The Wife felt a little more uneven than The Wreath – the plot seemed to start and stop, jolting from one episode to another. Also, I found the political intrigue hard to follow, mostly because I can’t keep track of who’s married or related to whom. I really need to make a chart or some kind to keep track of all those secondary characters! They have a way of lurching into the plot long after I’ve forgotten them and becoming relevant again, and I just can’t keep the Norwegian names in my head.

Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
The second of a trilogy, the writing continues to be amazing! Descriptions are so vivid, of the surroundings, of the people and their thoughts, and of relationships. Following Kristin through the time of raising her children and dealing with Erlend’s absence from Husaby, but also having admiration for his bravery and leadership.

Kristin has to consider the consequences of the choices she has made as they affect her and her children, but also dealings with properties and finally with her relations
Brianna Bratrud
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
The second book of this medieval Norwegian trilogy hit a level of depth that the first just couldn’t (probably because it involved more death and the fruit of sin, and therefore powerful joy, hope, and love). The story was slower but more satisfying as a whole.
While the disgusting and fearful idolatries of the Catholic tradition run rampant in this volume in a way more tangible than in the first book, the heart-breaking beauty of the Catholic value of mystery, holiness, and sacrament is also mo
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I love about these books: the drama, the setting, the incredible way Sigrid Undset writes emotions and especially passionate arguments. The fights are frequent and fierce, and for a book written 100 years ago about people living in 14th century Norway, they feel like they could have happened yesterday. Kristin's adventures in motherhood, running a household, and dealing with her charming ass of a husband are always surprisingly engrossing. This was written beautifully and included several g ...more
Laura Tenfingers
Almost as good as book 1 but I don't think it's because the book is any less good, but because of my ignorance of 14th century Christian morality and Norwegian politics. The character studies are fantastic, stellar, amazing! I got lost and a bit bored during some long passages discussing sin and redemption and later again when politics got thick and heavy. But overall it was great and had I understood Christian morals and politics of the time better I'm sure it would have been 5 star read.
Fr. Ted
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoy Undset's style of writing and the world she describes/has created. The characters are wonderful. I liked book one even better than this one, but some of that is Kristin's aging and her worldview is changing. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. And often when we get what we want, it turns out not to be what we really wanted.
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a bit more of a mixed bag for me than the first one was.

I didn't care much for the perspective jumping from character to character, making Kristin more or less a side character throughout (at least) half of the book. I do like how this way many of the side characters are very fleshed out in their psychology than they'd have been otherwise and how we see Kristin from different perspectives this way, but it was just too not very enjoyable for me. By the end of the book Kristin felt very e
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
While I liked this one better than the first book in the series, I still didn't love it. Very well written. I just don't love the characters. They are melancholic and seem to have the hardest time seeing anything in a positive light for more than 2 paragraphs. There were a couple really nice passages with the reconciliation of Lavrans Sr. and his wife. Can Kristin and her husband ever not be foolish?
Laurel Hicks
I found this more enjoyable than the first book, but not enough to go on to the final book in the trilogy.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Kristin's dysfunction started to drive me crazy in this book. She absolutely will not let anything go. She remembers every single misdeed ever done to her by Erlend. She remembers her own sins ad nauseam, apparently unable to move forward. It negatively impacts her marriage, and even her own ability to thrive.

I definitely need a break from these people before I embark on book 3.
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These men's sexual entitlement is about ready to get on my last nerve. I know it's historically realistic but it is testing me.

3.5/4 stars
The Wife is book two of the Kristin Lavrensdatter cycle, or trilogy, or life-story, or series...I'm really not sure what to call it. The first book, The Wreath, follows young Kristin's first 19 years as an unmarried maiden in 14th century Norway, ending with her wedding. Book #2 picks up with Kristin's arrival at her husband's estate and follows the next 15 odd years of her married life, most of which is spent ill in bed, pregnant, or recovering from pregnancy. In other words, much happens and y ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Add info (8) 3 11 Apr 30, 2018 10:45AM  
Great Books Kansa...: July 29, 2016—"The Wife" by Sigrid Unset 2 1 Jul 30, 2016 03:34PM  

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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

Other books in the series

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

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