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The Tricking of Freya

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  875 ratings  ·  204 reviews
A young woman obsessed with uncovering a family secret is drawn into the strange and magical landscape, language, and history of Iceland.

Freya Morris is living in New York, far removed from her family and her past, when she is summoned back to the formative place of her youth, a remote Canadian village called Gimli, where her Icelandic ancestors settled long ago. Her a
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Picador (first published March 3rd 2009)
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Jun 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those with a love of language and family sagas.
Every once in awhile a book comes along that just takes my breath away. I can't explain why and the ones on my short list (like Sunlight in a Beautiful Garden, Moby Dick or The Time Traveler's Wife) don't appear to have any similarities to each other at all, except perhaps that in all cases, the authors' command of the written word shows what a truly beautiful language English can be in the right hands.

From the the first paragraph until I closed the cover last night I was swept away by this lyri
What do I think the book is about? A multigenerational saga filled with Icelandic myths, legends, culture and landscapes. Good writing. Exploration of family secret.

My guess was correct! And the book was very good, in fact worth four stars. I loved learning about Iceland and the Icelandic immigrants that settled in Manitoba, Canada.

The above is still correct. I have read 43% .
In addition to that above the story is a coming of age novel. It is light read
Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This book made me want to sign up for a writing class or go back in time and go to a college with a great writing program... Altough it is a first novel by the author she is clearly a superb writer (and in fact teaches writing in San Francisco(?)). Brilliant. The flow of the words, the character of the Icelandic culture that permeates and breathes through this novel, the portrayal of bipolar disorder that shows but does not tell us what's going on, the plotting and the unfolding and the ver ...more
There is a story in the Icelandic poetic cannon about the tricking of Gylfi. Gylfi, the king, goes to challenge the Aesir (the clan of the gods) and discover the source of their power. He approaches Odin, who appears as a trinity on three thrones, and challenges him with a feat of wits wherein he peppers the tri-god with questions about the beginning and the end of the world. Odin, of course, easily answers all the inquiries and Gylfi fears for his life. Finally, he manages to stump Odin. Immedi ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After a spate of middling reads, I am delighted with the start of this novel. Christina Sunley's astute observance of children reminds me of Anne-Marie MacDonald. Good writing, interesting setting (an Icelandic settlement in Canada) . . . sigh, I'm happy.

Now that I have finished "The Tricking of Freya," I highly recommend it. The promising opening played out into an involving read that kept me up late and made me want this novel to be a hit so that Sunley will write more. The publisher has an am
Mar 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: iceland

Freya Morris discovers a bare hint of a family secret, a secret she sets out to unravel. On the way, we meet her family of Icelandic expatriates living in Gimli, Manitoba (the Canadian New Iceland), her manic depressive aunt, her long-suffering mother and grandmother, and several loyal family friends. Mix this surface story with reflections on language, goddesses, episodes from the famous Icelandic sagas (best represented by the poet-warrior Egil Skallagrimson), and above all the landscapes of G

Fantastic! I just love this book. I read it before, during and after a trip to Iceland and it was the best background reading I could have chosen. Maybe more a companion reader. I learned so much about Iceland, its people, language and culture, all of which gave me a context for my visit to this fascinating country. The descriptions of the landscape are written in beautiful prose and completely capture the extra ordinariness of the island. It's also a book about manic depression / bipolar disord ...more
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me want to be icelandic, or at least have a really good friend that lives there and lets me stay the summers.

The writting, the voice, the pauses, the rhythm, I am not sure what the proper term is, but whatever IT is, it is different in this book. Good different, interesting different. It took me a chapter or two to find my bearings in reading the story, but I am so glad I continued. Sorry if this sounds silly, but sometimes I felt like I was reading english for the first time. Ho
Jan 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as tightly woven as most mysteries, but then probably not meant to be a mystery. I had figured out the main plot "mystery" by a third of the way through. And the heroine really plays the shame-filled orphan card way too much. The description of Birdie, Freya's mother, and her descent into psychotic bipolar disordr appeared on target, and very hard to bear, as it was very painful. Told from the first-person memories of the young person forced to accompany her, made the account even more poign ...more
Jenna (Falling Letters)
Feb 23, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-read-fiction
I have no idea how this got on my TBR but I suspect it has something to do with the Gimli setting, a town where I spent a lot of fun time growing up because my family had a trailer for summer weekends about 15 minutes away...I wouldn't describe Gimli as 'remote', lol, but maybe this story is set farther in the past?
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2017
Great novel. Challenging at times, I had to reread a few parts. I figured out the ending way before we were told which took away a little bit. Topic of mental illness is important. It’s very atmospheric. Iceland and the people who live there seem wonderful and this book just added to my desire to go there :)
Feb 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
If my reading tastes were just a bit different this would be a 5 star read, so don't let my 3 star rating dissuade you. I picked up this book for the sole reason that I was going on a trip to Iceland, and I wanted to immerse myself in the place a little before going. In this the book was partially successful - the parts about Iceland really captured the place. But this book is less about Iceland than it is about relationships, people, and what makes them tick. That's not a bad thing at all, in f ...more
Lisa Beaulieu
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are fascinated by Iceland
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Leslie Rose
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Christina Sunley
A master-tale of search for identity and roots (set mostly in Manitoba & Iceland). Sunley is a clever, poetic and insightful wordsmith, as well as an astute observer of human nature at it's best and worst. I love a novel that has a good balance of good plot and great language - this has both. If you like stories about misfits discovering themselves and ones with complex characters, you'll love this journey of one woman through her family's history and secrets.

I am an old friend of the author's
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I was annoyed by the first chapter,the overly self-conscious posture of it, I read on and am glad I did. I love Sunley's characterizations, both of "her pople" and of place. Sunley takes a risk of losing her reader (spoiler alert) when her most interesting charcter, Birdie, dies midway through the book and the action slows. Again, I am glad I kept reading. The Tricking of Freya is filled (sometimes to overflowing)with Icelanadic language and lore. The mystery behind The Tricking of Frey ...more
Mar 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was captivated by this story about an Icelandic-Canadian-American (a tiny bit) family. Sunley's writing style was lush and lyrical - she really made me want to visit Iceland and learn more about its literacy tradition. My enjoyment was deepened by my recent reading of Halldór Laxness's Independent People, also set in Iceland, and my visit to the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle just a few months ago. But read this book even if you haven't read IP or visited the museum!
As a poet who writes about runes, I adore kennings. So finding out that there is an emphasis on kennings in this novel attracted me to it. Sure enough there was a paragraph in The Tricking of Freya that inspired me to start the process on a new rune poem. Needless to say,I enjoyed the mythology element and the Icelandic history element.

Although I saw the plot resolution coming a while before the big reveal, I did think the characterization was quite good.

Aug 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay I will admit to skipping over some of the parts about Iceland. But partly because I'm reading it for a book club and had to get it done. And I will admit to figuring out the "trick" ahead of time, well most of it. Otherwise, I thought it was well written with interesting and unique characters.
Celeste Miller
Mar 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book until the last 40 or so pages. At that point, it began to suffer from "Empire Falls Syndrome", or "Gotta wrap this thing up ASAP!" Also, I wish she gave the reader more credit toward the end. The repeated bait and switch gave me whiplash.
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this novel. It inspired me to have a short lived obession with everything Icelandic!
Abby-Rose Margarida Sparrow
Normally, I go for novels that have at least one of three things

1) some kind of supernatural/fairytale/legend/myth element.

2) a historical(ish) basis/setting/whatever


3) some literary connection/merit (for example, the wonderful book on my favorites that is The Thirteenth Tale does not have fairies or one of Henry the 8th's wives coming back from the dead to retell her tragic tale or anything like that, but it DOES center around an author and alludes constantly to classic literature).

True, I
Joell Smith-Borne
Dec 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joell by: Jenny (Reading Envy)
Shelves: literary-fic
Really enjoying this so far--love the insights into Icelandic culture and landscape! I think the description is a little misleading--I thought that the obsession with the family secret is what would drive the main character to go to Iceland and make things happen, but it's more like the obsession is causing her to remember the stuff that happened when she was a kid. So far the adult version of Freya hasn't done anything except write letters, but the kid version has had an AMAZING and scary life. ...more
Toni Osborne
This Icelandic saga is full of myth and legend, family drama and accentuated with a vivid description of a beautiful landscape. It tells the story of Freya Morris, a North American woman of Icelandic descent who is obsessed with uncovering a family secret.

Freya grew up in Connecticut but each summer she visited her relatives in Gimli Manitoba, a tinny village in Canada settled by Icelandic immigrants. There she falls under the spell of her aunt Girdie and the story of a secret child she once gav
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i began this novel with high hopes and was not let down.

beautiful is the only word to describe sunley's intricate weaving of the elements of the story to create a rich and compelling tapestry of a novel. combining norse mythology, family drama, psychology, and cultural and historical themes, the tricking of freya strikes the perfect balance between these elements.

sunley spins her tale expertly, sending us back and forth through time to link events, emotions, and themes in freya's life. her man
Jun 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
It is a touching and realistic portrayal of family and relationships as Freya sorts through her memories in an effort to find truth and identity. Her relationships with her mother and her aunt; one a plain and serious wife, the other an unpredictable woman living a rollercoaster existence of brilliance and misery, are explored. Freya must reconciled her feelings for these two most influential people in her life and discover the truth about her past before she is able to find acceptance of who sh ...more
Mar 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ellen, Hester
Recommended to Candice by: GoodReads
Shelves: first-reads
This was a truly absorbing book, and I am so glad to have won a copy from GoodReads! I love books centered on other cultures, and this book was centered on Icelandic culture. The title character, Freya, has had a difficult childhood, losing her father and a beloved aunt when she was still young, and her mother while she was in college. Taking place mostly in Gimli, Manitoba and Iceland, the book takes Freya on a journey to uncover a family secret. There is plenty of Icelandic history, culture, l ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bound-book
What fun to read this when I was in Iceland!
May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-2k9
so totally engrossing.

i read all the blurbs about this book and somehow didn't fully grasp what it was going to be about but i was pleasantly surprised. the story moved slow and quiet and really picked up once freya was in iceland, which is when i became obsessed with iceland. how did i not know anything about iceland before? it wasn't just about iceland, though, it was about the struggle to figure out what your life is supposed to be like when the most important people to you are dead or absent
Bob Coats
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This 2009 coming-of-age novel is the story of Freya, a girl from the Canadian-Icelandic community near Winnepeg. At the age of 7, Freya falls under the influence of a beautiful, flamboyant and deeply disturbed (bipolar, paranoid)aunt who teaches her Icelandic and fills her head with Icelandic poetry and mythology. When Freya is 13, the aunt takes her (without parental permission) on a trip to Iceland, which ends in disaster. Freya is deeply wounded, and retreats into herself, but ultimately retu ...more
Mary Anne
Sep 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended by my buddy, Bev N. It was very well written and a bit quirky. When have you last read a novel about Icelandic culture that included a bit of a mystery?
The main character, Freya, is a young woman who is writing essentially a diary for her unknown "cousin." She reveals all the family secrets and takes the reader on a tour of Iceland as well.
The book didn't make me want to visit Iceland, but I definitely enjoyed Freya and her family and Icelandic folklore. The mystery i
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Christina Sunley was born in New York City, raised on Long Island, and has lived for the past twenty years in the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended Wesleyan University, got a BFA in Film from New York University, and received her Masters in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She currently works fulltime in the nonprofit sector.

Christina grew up hearing stories about h

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