Kristin Lavransdatter

Over three years late, but here it is: my final post on Kristin Lavransdatter. The readalong has long since finished, and indeed, it’s been a long, long time since I closed the book and put it back on my shelf (probably forever). Still, closure is needed!

The final verdict: Kristin Lavransdatter is not a book that impressed me. I know because I can hardly remember a thing about it; the two things I do recall firmly being that (1) the heroine’s name is Kristin Lavransdatter (hardly an achievement, given that this name is, in fact, the title) and (2) it is set in medieval Norway.

Were there unsatisfactory marriages and knights in shining armor and illicit romances and lots of blonde Scandinavian children? Were there? Do I even care? I waxed lyrical about this novel in my earlier reflections and midway impressions, so why have I come to be so indifferent about it? I’m not sure. Strange phenomenon, indeed, because I reached the opposite end of the rainbow with 1Q84 recently, when I found myself liking it more and more as I inched closer to the ending.

I may decide to re-read this someday. I do have a perverse tendency to re-read things I dislike. Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss, for instance – I thought it overworked and too stylized in my first reading, but came to like it in the second. Maybe Salman Rushdie’s Enchantress of Florence (which I mistakenly referred to as the ‘Empress of Florence’ in my indifference towards it) will also charm me second time round?

I’ve long since realised that the reason I finish things I dislike is because I have this innate curiosity which desires to know why such and such a character said something or behaved a certain way, or why the writer chose to write this book, or even why it is I dislike it so vehemently. And I usually feel as though I won’t get answers unless I’ve finished the damn things. But as to why I choose to re-read them? Who knows. It may be the burning questions.

The burning question in regards to Kristin Lavransdatter is most definitely: how on earth did this thing win Sigrid Undset the Nobel Prize for Literature? Anyone care to toss up some answers?

Kristin Lavransdatter readalong:


8 thoughts on “Kristin Lavransdatter

  1. I remember when Claire and others were reading this years ago; you were probably in their midst, but I didn’t ‘know’ you then. It’s funny how you mention books can get better on the reread, which I’ve never really considered before. I know I disliked The Inheritence of Loss enough not to finish it; I know I’ve abandoned books, but come back to love them later on. Possession by A. S. Byatt and The God of Small Things by i can’t remember come to mind.

    So glad you’re joining me in Norwegian Wood.

    I see My Name is Red in your sidebar. Loved Snow, and Museum of Innocence but those are the only novels of his I’ve read so far. I have My Name is Red, and I just received his newly translated into English book The Silent House. I’m looking forward to both of them.

    1. Yeah I had trouble finishing Possession at first as well, it’s just so dense. Managed to plod through it, and love it by the end as well, though! Going through the same thing with Middlemarch right now. I’ve attempted it sooo many times, but never managed to reach even halfway :(

      I recently read Museum of Innocence and I actually disliked it (anything to do with obsession, or stalkerish behaviour just creeps me out), but was entranced by it. I don’t know how to describe it any other way haha. Something just kept drawing me back to it.

      Claire loved Snow as well, so I’m going to have to try that sometime!

    2. Hi B! Yep, Tuesday was supposed to be reading along with us then and then she quit her blog. (Look who’s talking.)

      B, I promise you, the beauty of The Inheritance of Loss is in the ending! I was indifferent to it at first, but the ending really struck me.

      1. Hahah Claire, none of us are really ‘quitters’, since we’re back now (for good I hope!)
        Funny because I’ve completely forgotten the ending of that book now…. all I can remember is the little mutt, and her crabby grandfather, and the maths tutor, and that wonderfully evocative setting in the misty mountains of Nepal – I hope it’s Nepal!

  2. Tuesday, hahahaha! All the Kristin Lavransdatter wisecracking, I remember so fondly. I really didn’t like it at all but strange how I never let my copies (the 3-volume) go, don’t know why. Your quirk, rereading books you didn’t like, I kind of understand. Sometimes I have the urge, too. It happened to me with The Penelopiad. Rereading made me like it a lot.

    1. It’s actually hilarious how, from memory, (although I haven’t trusted mine that much since the Empress/Enchantress thing) NO ONE enjoyed this book! I’m keeping my copy because of the gorgeous cover, and my re-reading ‘quirk’ ;)

  3. I hadn’t heard of this before, and I’ll be honest – I probably won’t seek it out either. I find it easier to walk away from books I am indifferent about, ones that I don’t care about anyone in it and don’t care what they do or what happens to them than the ones I don’t like or even hate. If a book gets me worked up, even negatively, I am compelled to finish. -Sarah

    1. Same, I’m usually compelled to finish a book that works me up or provokes me in some way or other. The ones I NEVER go back to, ever, are probably the ones with atrocious writing ;)

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