Saturday, March 10, 2018

Kristin Lavransdatter 2 and 3

Kristin Lavransdatter 2: The Wife and 3: The Cross / Sigrid Undset, trans. by Tiina Nunnally, 861 p.

The remainder of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, following The Bridal Wreath, was indeed more enjoyable via the recent translation by Tiina Nunnally, as I had hoped it would be.  Part two sees Kristin through the births of her many children and the terror, illness, grief and joy that accompany that process.  Throughout, medieval Norwegian politics become important; Kristin's noble but rash husband Erlend becomes embroiled in a succession plot that turns out disastrously, with lasting repercussions for their marriage.  Part 3 shows us Kristin's sons growing to adulthood; each young man is a distinct, believable and interesting character, and each impacts the marriage between Kristin and Erlend.  For my money, this is possibly the best, truest picture of a marriage I've ever read in fiction.  The trilogy ends as the Black Death makes its way across Europe and arrives on Norway's shores.  Undset won the Nobel Prize; now that I've finished the trilogy I have no trouble understanding why.  A tremendous work.

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