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The Wreath

(Kristin Lavransdatter #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  5,252 ratings  ·  689 reviews
Originally published in Norwegian in 1920 and set in fourteenth-century Norway, The Wreath chronicles the courtship of a headstrong and passionate young woman and a dangerously charming and impetuous man. Undset re-creates the historical backdrop in vivid detail, immersing readers in the day-to-day life, social conventions, and political undercurrents of the period. Her pr ...more
Paperback, 305 pages
Published December 1st 1997 by Penguin Classics (first published 1920)
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Jonathan Rimorin I think they're different translations. I can only speak to Nunnally's translation, as that's the one I've read; but there's a NYRB essay by Brad Leit…moreI think they're different translations. I can only speak to Nunnally's translation, as that's the one I've read; but there's a NYRB essay by Brad Leithauser (also included in the Nunnally translation; paywall here: where he discusses Nunnally's translation (which he praises as bringing the reader "closer to the heart of the book than Archer did," and revealing Undset as "a writer of spare rigor") vs Archer (which Leithauser describes as filled with "florid constructions and whimsical quaintnesses" but admits a lingering fondness for). Nunnally, in her note on her translation, points out that Archer imposed an artificially archaic style on the text, misrepresenting Undset's prose as Victorian romanticism, filling it with stilted dialogue (using words such as 'tis, 'twas, I trow, thee, thou, hath, doth) and a convoluted syntax. Moreover, she points out that "a crucial passage from 'The Wreath' was censored, perhaps thought to be too sexually explicit from readers of the time."

In short, I don't think you can go wrong with the Nunnally translation. Mileage will vary, of course. Let me know what you think!(less)
Paul Absolutely. It is very clean. Some suggestions of sexual arousings, but nothing gross or shocking.

I read it in French.…more
Absolutely. It is very clean. Some suggestions of sexual arousings, but nothing gross or shocking.

I read it in French.(less)

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Start your review of The Wreath (Kristin Lavransdatter, #1)
"She whimpered silently in fear at the inconstancy of her own heart and at the transitory nature of all things.”

Published in 1920, The Wreath is the first volume in the Kristin Lavransdatter medieval trilogy written by Danish born Sigrid Undset. Undset moved to Norway at the age of two, and this series takes place in that country during the early fourteenth century at a time when the Catholic Church was firmly established and played a significant role in the lives of its people. In 1928, Sigrid
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of Historical Fiction
I really do try to be stingy with five star ratings--this came close. Sigrid Undset was one of the first women writers to win the Nobel Prize for literature--and the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy following the life of a 14th century woman more than any work is where she made her reputation. The Wreath, the first novel of the trilogy, opens in 1306 Norway when Kristin's little more than a toddler and continues through to her young womanhood--so this is her coming of age story.

For me the key meas
Ahmad Sharabiani
Kransen = The Wreath (Kristin Lavransdatter #1), 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.
Kristin Lavransdatter is the daughter of Lavrans, a charismatic, respected nobleman in a rural area of Norway, and his wife Ragnfrid, who suffers from depression after the loss of three
Cindy Rollins
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, reread
This is one trilogy of books, Kristin Lavransdatter, where the experience changes with age. Deeply profound, this book can be hard to read as it can touch so many bruises. This time around I felt far more sympathy for Kristin’s mother. I felt like I knew her very well and loved her. Poor Kristin now she will live a life her parents would have saved her from if they could have.
Britta Böhler
I know there is a lot you could critize about this story, particularly Kristin's choice for Erlend, but I just love this book. There you have it.

Jan 16, 2019 marked it as dnf
I wish it was made clear by other reviewers that this book was more about Christian faith than anything else, really.

I did some word searches in my digital copy of the whole trilogy. “Church” appears in it 451 times, “sin” - 397, “God” - 476. You get the picture.
Clif Hostetler
Jun 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This is the first book in a trilogy set in Norway in the fourteenth century. The central character is Kristin Lavransdatter who we first meet as a young girl spending a good deal of time with her father on visits to various parts of their large estate farm in eastern Norway. Through the father-daughter interactions we, the readers, get an introduction to rural life, farming, social customs and religious beliefs of early 14th century Norway. We also fall in love with the sweet innocent girl that ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This trilogy has been on my to-read list for years, but motivating myself to read a 1100-page classic novel isn’t easy. Finally I decided to simply read the first book, which is just under 300 pages long. It worked, and got me interested enough that I’m now halfway through the second. Turns out this really is more a three-volume novel than a trilogy; while the first has a complete plot arc and can be read alone, they must be read in order because there’s no filling in new readers later on.

To be honest I'd never really heard of the famous Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy until a few years ago, a reflection on the shocking lack of attention I pay to most great European classics that aren't British. I'm slowly filling in my patchy reading history and the Scandinavian greats have been a wonderful delight.

This is first of the three and deals with the strong headed and stubborn as you like Kristin deciding to choose the 'bad boy' rather than the sensible but unexciting 'good boy' favoure
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The three volume set of Kristin Lavransdatter has been on my currently reading shelf since 2016. :-( I finished book one, and started book two at that time, but there it sat. So I'm deleting the set from my shelves, and separating them out, as I re-start book 2.

The Wreath enchanted me. I loved the story: the complex emotions of the family members, the intensity of their feelings, the descriptions of their work and their rituals. I wish I could write a real review, but too much time has gone by.
Emilia Barnes
A classic set in medieval Norway, written by a Nobel Prize laureate in the 1920s. Hardly the sort of thing one would expect to be a quick, enjoyable read.

Yet, through Undset's clean and sparing style, the world of Kristin Lavransdatter, her village, her friendships and loves, all come to life with such vividness, that you will find yourself reaching for the book constantly, wanting to know what will happen next. Remarkably, even though I am a twenty first century woman, and strongly believe in
Sigrid Undset's The Wreath is the first volume in a trilogy entitled Kristin Lavransdatter set in 14th century Norway. The heroine is the daughter of a well-to-do farmer in the Gudbrandsdal Valley located midway between Trondheim and Oslo.

While in her mid-teens, Kristin is betrothed to another successful farmer named Simon Darre, but in the intervening time, she falls in love with a knight named Erlend Nikolausson and begs her father to dissolve the betrothal.

In Medieval Norway, this was not do
Historically, I agree it is an awesome book. The daily life of a farmer and his family in the 14th century and the descriptions of the Norse environment are all very real and life like. I just want to prance around in a fjord. The story however of Kristen just frustrated me. She falls in love with a man who isn't a "proper" man at all. Perhaps the theme then is: you can't help whom you fall in love with. But then, Kristen knows and feels the guilt that this will have on her family. What's even m ...more
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fab-16
There is something so refreshing about the stark simplicity of Undset's language. It's just so clean! And yet the simplicity of language gave us quite beautiful descriptions, particularly of the natural world. I’m not sure I ever realized that simplicity could be so lyrical. Her ability to lead us by the hand into the mindset of the middle-ages was fascinating. She leaves us asking, in the end, which is more worthy, love or traditional obedience and morality? And we are so immersed in the morali ...more
Sherry Elmer
Last night I finished reading Kristin Lavrandatter Book I, The Wreath. It is the fourth time I read this book. Is it beginning to become predictable or boring? Quite the contrary—I loved it this time more than ever. It is a different read than it was the first time when I read it mostly to find out what would happen. I now I know what becomes of the rest of Kristin's life. And with knowing, there is deeper resonance. Just as in our own lives, we can sometimes look back at earlier events and see ...more
Caro the Helmet Lady
Ah, Middle Ages, times of patriarchy and mother church blooming, when woman's obedience and objectification of females was a norm. Times, when Christian Grey would get a permanent boner.

Sarcasm aside, I really liked this book. Undset's style is calm but passionate at same time, she portrays life and emotions of people so well. She was not afraid to get inside their hearts and describe their sins, real and imaginary, they all were so afraid of. She was not afraid to give Kristin some feminist thi
I thought this was the kind of book I'd read one day when for some reason I am prescribed bedrest by a doctor and I have already used up all of the internet.

A couple of years ago, my partner read them, and after each one he said, "Wow! These are so good!" And I would say, "Isn't it sort of boring, though? Hard to get into? Dry? Dull?" And he would say, "No, not at all!" And I wouldn't believe him because sometimes, men, you know?

Well, I never did hear anybody say: THIS IS A SOAP OPERA! A GOOD ON
A Norwegian Journey

This first novel of Sigrid Undset’s famous trilogy begins at Jørundgaard and introduces us to Kristin Lavransdatter, her family, its history and the surroundings deep in the mountain valleys of northern Norway during the Middle Ages. I was in particular struck by the omnipresence of nature and the people's connection to it via stories/tales. There is an initial trek up the mountain with the young Kristin and her father that gives Undset a wonderful opportunity to immerse the r
Kate Howe
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think this trilogy will be a new favorite of mine. Full of haunting religious imagery, The Wreath begins the story of Kristin Lavransdatter a young woman growing up in 14th century Norway and is her spiritual journey. In this volume we see Kristin's life and soul destroyed by her all-consuming desire for sin. Being so drawn in and taken by what she wants she is willing to sacrifice everything else - her family, her reputation, and her chastity in order to have something she knows deep down wil ...more
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Uff Da

No, Really, this book took it out of me.
I loved it, but it is dense and sorrow-filled. As this book is the first of three I cannot really review it until I've finished all of them. I can say that rarely does a book get this much of a reaction from me. I started talking about Kristin Lavransdatter like she was real. I ordered the other books via Powells this week, and it will take abit for them to get here, which is good because I need a break.

What I will say it that those who enjoy histor
Loved the setting of Norway in the 14th Century, the customs, beliefs and the descriptions of the environment. A way of life that is hard to imagine.

However I found it difficult to connect with the characters, with Kristen herself. This novel deals with her life from childhood up until her marriage at a young age to an older man, Erland. I found it difficult to empathise with some of the life choices that Kristen made and the means she was willing to go to have what she wanted in life.

It was ch
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
reread this after 5 years (read the other translation the first time around). still wanna smack and hug Kristin all at the same time.
I think it says a lot about the first book of a trilogy when you decide that you'll carry on and read the remaining two books. I will with this trilogy, but not without some hesitation! I enjoy reading about medieval times, but I feel other books about that time period that I have read did a better job of helping me understand that particular setting. The setting in The Wreath is described beautifully in terms of place. But in terms of time not so much. There is definitely dialogue and action in ...more
in 2017, it was the year of virginia woolf. in 2018, it was the year of marcel proust. in 2019, it will be the year of the female nobel prize laureates. hurrah!

MARCH: sigrid undset (won in 1928, 18 years after the first woman, selma lagerlöf but only two years after the second woman, grazia deledda)

according to the academy, undset was awarded the nobel prize "principally for her powerful descriptions of northern life during the middle ages." the writing of this novel, first to a trilogy of his
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder
This was translated by Charles Archer and J.S. Scott and is very difficult to read.

If anyone wants to read this "Kristin Lavransdatter," do yourself a favor and get the edition translated by Tiina Nunnally.

I don't usually don't pay attention to translators and just read what is available at the public library or at project Gutenberg, but I'm taking that Archer/Scott translated edition of volumes 1-3 back the library bec I purchased Nunnally translation (used copy of the complete work under one
Amazing book... Will come back and write a review after I finish the trilogy.


My friend Carol has been after me to read the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy (of which this is the first book) for forever. Am finally taking the plunge. It was la Fort's glowing endorsement on top of my friend's consistent urging which has worn me down. This book looks like a monster. That plus medieval Nordic fiction seems a bit daunting...
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, catholic
This was a tragedy for everyone involved and as it happens in tragedies whom you thought would be the hero may turn out to be the villain.

The actual drama aside, the writing was excellent. I've never encountered such vivid descriptions without the writing remotely approaching the danger of becoming purple prose. It's not all done in one long passage. It's cumulative, through the descriptions of nature, the clothing, the smells, the food, the folklore. When young Kristin encounters a mysterious w
Katie Schuermann
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This first installment of the Kristin Lavransdatter tome is epic in historical scope and literary beauty, but truthfully, I found it quite stressful to read. Maybe it is my being middle-aged or married or both, but I had trouble caring for young Kristin in her perpetual selfishness and foolishness. However, I believe this aversion might be intentional on the part of the author, as Undset never once glorifies sin and selfishness in this story as anything but contrary to God's good will. The Chris ...more
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
The gorgeous and emotional writing elevates it from Nordic soap opera to work on a higher plane. I want to read the next installment, soon.
Tracey the Bookworm
This first book of the trilogy was slow at first but by the end, Undset had me hooked.

A tale set in Medieval (14th cent) Norway. A tale of the unflowering of a gentlewoman, Kristin,and the emotions and effects this causes her and her family. Undset focuses on the beliefs of the time and the religious torment caused because of sin. Filled with daily activities amongst inner turmoil this is a book that opens up a time period that seems both distant and yet understood by common themes we find today
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Goodreads Librari...: Add info (7) 3 13 Apr 30, 2018 10:44AM  
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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 Wife (Kristin Lavransdatter, #2)
  • The Cross (Kristin Lavransdatter, #3)

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