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Kristin Lavransdatter: The Bridal Wreath/The Mistress of Husaby/The Cross

(Kristin Lavransdatter #1-3)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  9,605 ratings  ·  1,293 reviews
"The finest historical novel our 20th century has yet produced; indeed it dwarfs most of the fiction of any kind that Europe has produced in the last twenty years."

-- Contemporary Movements in European Literature, edited by William Rose and J. Isaacs

"As a novel it must be ranked with the greatest the world knows today." -- Montreal Star

"Sigrid Undset's trilogy embodies mor
cloth, 1069 pages
Published June 27th 1951 by Random House USA Inc. (first published 1920)
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Neil White The newer translation by Tiina Nunally is preferred by most readers, I think - it's quite beautiful and modern sounding, very straightforward and more…moreThe newer translation by Tiina Nunally is preferred by most readers, I think - it's quite beautiful and modern sounding, very straightforward and more like Undset's original prose. It reads like 20th century fiction, basically. Some people prefer the older original translation by Charles Archer and J.S. Scott, but it's rather archaic sounding - lots of 'thee's and 'thou's and 'methinks', etc. It was a stylistic choice to reflect the 14th century of the novel, but a lot of people think it's distracting and does a disservice to Undset's prose. I can see why they thought that might be an interesting choice, but I think the Nunally is far superior.(less)
Connie Brown I read one or two of Undset's shorter books, but they didn't have the power of the two big ones. I met Kristin Lavransdattar in 1961 and loved it. Lat…moreI read one or two of Undset's shorter books, but they didn't have the power of the two big ones. I met Kristin Lavransdattar in 1961 and loved it. Later in '62 I read The Master of Hestviken, also really long. It hit me at an important moment in my life, when I briefly thought Ayn Rand knew what she was talking about. Then I read The Master . . . and realized that Undset deeply knew human nature and that AR did not.(less)
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Well, well, well, Miss Undset has made it onto my 10-star list. She should be proud. She also won a Nobel Prize for her work, so there is that. Her Kristin Lavransdatter books are unquestionably works of massive scope on par with JRR Tolkien's Lord Of the Rings. A strange comparison, you say? Well I agree with you. The only thing that comes to mind immediately is the length of the two. But there is so much more. Where LOTR was preparation for battle with Sauron's forces, Kristin Lavransdatter wa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who don't shrink from the cross they have to bear
Shelves: read-in-2016
A historical epic divided in three installments – The Wreath, The Wife and The Cross – that unfolds the life of Kristin Lavrandsatter, a woman of noble ancestry in Medieval Norway, from birth to death. Undset paints a faithful portrayal of an era marked by turbulent dynastic wars and the latent paganism ingrained in the Christian values of a very rigid society, representative of its time. The three novels probe deep into the human, moral and religious conflicts that befall on the protagonist and ...more
But she couldn’t help it; it was her nature to love with great toil and care.
When I read, I seek the marrow of things. Details and description of lands I shall never see and times I shall never know are all very well, but I am a human being, and it is human beings I am concerned with. It is easier for me with some books than others due to commonalities of sex and race and culture, but more often than not that is a surface tension appeal, a reliance on shared references that both author and I
May 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one should be subtitled, "decent people make scads of bad decisions and then agonize over them." Seriously. I am surprised to have liked it as much as I did, because there is no reason this massive book should work.

And yet, it does precisely because of all the reasons why it shouldn't: plot and pace sacrificed to character development, pages and pages of seemingly trivial detail and enough Catholicism to fill a smallish catechism. Taken individually, its separate parts sound like a gruelin
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant and beautiful! I just finished Kristin Lavransdatter and it has easily earned a place in my favorite books ever. Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize in Literature for Kristin Lavransdatter while still in her prime and it was well earned. For those reading it for the first time, I strongly recommend the most recent translation by Tiina Nunnally. The original translation into english by Charles Archer, which I tried to read unsuccessfully several years ago, is filled with unauthentic arhai ...more
Jan 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've seen Kristin Lavransdatter described as a book about a young woman who "defies her family and faith to follow the passions of her heart." Well, yes. But while today that might be seen as a virtue, it is decidedly not portrayed as such in Kristin Lavransdatter. This is not a feminist book. Despite how often Sigrid Undset wrote about "the immoral kind" of love, she was no proponent of the burgeoning emancipation movement. She is fairly unique among those who write about illicit love because s ...more
Mar 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All historical fiction fans
In my recent review of Heather Day Gilbert's God's Daughter, I commented that her style in some ways reminds me of Undset's. Perhaps that's a function of the fact that both ladies' writing is shaped by a Christian world-view (Undset was an adult convert to Roman Catholicism), both focus their historical writing on medieval Scandinavian culture, both do a great job of getting inside their character's heads, and both created strong female protagonists. (Though Undset's other major work, which I re ...more
Seven reasons why I really, really want to love Kristin Lavransdatter

1) I have long-standing crushes on both Scandinavia and ye olden days, and this book is a free trip straight to the heart of 14th-century Norway. Undset's portrayal of the life of one woman, from childhood until death, is fascinatingly intertwined with the tensions between the Catholic present and pagan traditions in medieval Norway. And her writing so evocative. You can just smell the cook-fire smoke in the wooden rooms, see
I started getting interested in Kristin Lavransdatter this past winter. I really want to visit Norway for some time, and I wanted to learn more about Europe in the Middle Ages. If you want to read about medieval times without getting bored, this book is a great choice. I am glad I spent the summer reading this book, since it included so much history and such unique characters. (By the way, reading about the Middle Ages during the summer is a unique experience, and I strongly recommend it.) Howev ...more
Timothy Hallinan
This is my favorite novel of the year. I read it about 30 years ago in the old translation and loved it, but the Tiina Nunnaly rendering is beautifully simple, without the creaking archaisms of the other, which was done in the 1930s, I think.

Reading this again reaffirmed my conviction that many modern historical novels are pap of the tenth magnitude, identifying the sympathetic characters for the drowsy reader by giving them value systems and attitudes that didn't evolve for centuries. The main
[ETA movie review at the end.]

Man, I don't even know how to review this book. It's really big, and full of melodrama, and it took me a pretty long time to read; and now that I'm done I'm somewhat tired and will be glad not to have to think about this anymore.

Don't get me wrong, this is a fine book. But I didn't love it. At times, I didn't even like it. There was a lot of talky-talk, and maybe that's my own fault for reading the entire kit-and-caboodle in one collection as opposed to reading the
Jul 31, 2014 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I just bought this book with money and later I am going to read it with my eyes and brain.
BAM Endlessly Booked
Audio #145

Superb! Loved this
Top marks story telling
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I will be mourning over finishing this book, for a very long time I think. Giving it a 5 star rating seems so inadequate.

This book has shot straight to the top of my list of all time favorite novels. I have so many thoughts about this masterpiece. I don't have the time right now to put my thoughts in an orderly fashion - so here they are VERY randomly and I know that it won't do this novel justice, but here they are nevertheless:

* The single most exquisite work on the topic of motherhoo
Erik Graff
Jan 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Anne-Lise Graff
Shelves: literature
This is one of the finest novels I have ever read. Until reading about it to write this note, I had not realized that it was one of the first novels to describe the entire life of a woman who was not a royal. My estimation of the book may be influenced by the fact that I purchased and read it in Norway while spending two months there visting family. Consequently, I was able to visit several of the sites which play a part in the novel while reading it.
Roman Clodia
I enjoyed volume 1 (4-stars), made it through volume 2 - just, (3-stars), staggered through volume 3 only through judicious skimming (2-stars) so am settling for a 3-star rating overall with individual thoughts on each volume below:

Volume 1: The Garland (4-stars)
In the spirit of the bildungsroman, we first meet Kristin as a young child of 7 and it's her close relationship with her father which fills the early part of the book. Her colder, troubled mother sits in the background and it's not ti
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
As an omnibus, the length of this classic trilogy is daunting; it was on my to-read list for years before I decided to read just the first, 300-page book. Of course that was excellent and I soon read the rest of the trilogy. While I understand the omnibus packaging – the later books assume knowledge of the earlier ones such that it is akin to one three-volume novel – for me, reading three individual novels worked best.

Kristin Lavransdatter is the life story of one woman, and the people closest t
Allison Hurd
An impressive undertaking. I can't believe this hasn't yet been turned into a TV series--it's like three seasons of a period piece with so much content, drama, and simple truth, already all written.

CONTENT WARNING (a list of topics) :(view spoiler)

Things that were wondrous:

-The scope. This is the full life of a woman as a character study. In that study, all the lives she touche
Cindy Newton
This is considered a great work of literature, and Ms. Undset received the Nobel prize. Despite these indisputable facts, this just did not work for me--I don't know why. I was very caught up in the story at the beginning and on the edge of my seat wondering if Kristen would get caught with Erland or if she would marry him before her condition became obvious. Reading about her grappling with life as a new wife and mother is also interesting. As the story progresses, though, my interest waned. Th ...more
Emily Vanderwerff
When I was in college, a kid in a writing class I was in opined that the only worthy books were about "extraordinary people or extraordinary situations." I bristled against the suggestion but also didn't push back too hard because I couldn't think of obvious counter-examples.

Well, anyway, now I've read Kristin Lavransdatter, and that can be my go-to.

It is really hard to explain why this is one of the best books I've ever read. On the surface, a book about the life of a medieval Norwegian woman,
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in three volumes, this trilogy chronicles an early 14th century Norwegian woman, mistress of a substantial estate, from childhood through her death half a century later. Undset is a Nobel Prize in Literature winner, so it is not surprising that her prose is solid, although not particularly poetic. What I really enjoyed about this novel was the opportunity to be immersed in a time whose daily cultural details I know little about. This was published nearly a century ago, so I ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had read this before in the intentionally archaic original translation. While I found it to be a good story (and found several quotes to ponder and keep,) it felt clunky and rough.
I took this wonderful newer translation on a recent airplane flight and was so thrilled to have so many hours to read this beautifully written story of a medieval Norwegian woman and her world. Full of faith, love, longing, parenting, and redemption, a true epic.
These three books are exquisite. I don't know what to do now, for these characters have been my companions since February. I'm emotionally hung over and will be thinking about this story for a long time to come. I'd like to re-read it this winter knowing what I know now.

I have so many thoughts about Kristin. At times I had such compassion towards her. At times I was frustrated with her. She is SO raw and real as are all the characters.

I LOVED learning about Norway in the Middle Ages.

Sigrid Undse
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Clare Cannon
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, adults, roman
The epic of all re-readable epics, Kristin Lavransdatter is a three book series that must be read through to the end, for it is one story covering the whole life of the protagonist.

It is set in Norway in the 14th Century, a time and place where faith was intricately interwoven with life, and when land and family, inheritance and name were the full extent of one's identity - Lavransdatter means daughter of Lavrans.

Yet it is also a familiar and human story about the love and enmity between people,
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kristin Lavransdatter is the story story of a warm and determined woman. I cannot stop to think that what is The Lord of the Rings for boys is this book for girls. Unfortunately the resemblance stops here, as this novel is not so much known today, and the movie set on the book was far from Peter Jackson's masterpiece.
Undset’s writing is fluid and beautifully, and reveals the wild countryside of Norway in the 14th century, with a carefully depicted immersion in the day-to-day life, social, politi
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in 14th century Norway, this novel follows the story of Kristin Lavransdatter from the age of 7 to the 51. Christianity is firmly established in Norway, but vestiges of paganism remain when famine or plagues strike. Undset won a Nobel prize for the book and it's clear why. The descriptions of the natural setting and the way she described characters makes it one of the best novels I've read. It's a long book and I feel like really did watch all of Kristin's life unfold. If your library has it ...more
May 20, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ladies and gentlemen, I do not know if I will have time today, as I intended to return home soon today. They cast a film cycle on 13 swordsmen's TV and I wouldn't miss it for anything in the world. If there's one thing I love, it's swordsmen and cape-and-sword novels as long as they're well done.
In my last review on Dan Jones' "Crusaders" they could see my Hyde version. Unfortunately I cannot promise you that I will be Dr Jekyll today, but we will try to
Rick Slane
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Men who want to understand traditional women a little more

I read the "unauthentic archaic language" original translation by Charles Archer that is "not true to...original Norwegian text" according to Ashley's review and I did almost give up after 20 or 40 pages but I kept going anyway. It's so good now I'm tracking down the Nunnally translation.

This work is very Catholic and traditional in its examination of morality. It is written from a woman's point of view and this makes for much of the trilogy's uniqueness. Her father arranges her a secure marri

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Historical Fictio...: November 2014: Kristin Lavransdatter 34 207 Dec 16, 2020 11:26AM  
Reading 1001: Kristin Lavransdatter - Undset 5 16 Nov 30, 2020 04:33PM  
English Translati...: Sigrid Undset - Kristin Lavransdottir 9 10 Sep 17, 2019 03:57PM  
Catching up on Cl...: Kristin Lavransdatter -- Buddy Read 144 198 Aug 29, 2018 02:05AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions 2 14 May 07, 2018 07:47PM  

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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 Wife (Kristin Lavransdatter, #2)
  • The Cross (Kristin Lavransdatter, #3)

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