Light years ago I bought the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy by Sigrid Undset in the certain knowledge that at £10 for these three lovely U.S. editions it would be a crime to leave them behind in the bookshop but also that I would read them one day for sure.
I've had an exciting Nordic excursion over the last few days thanks to Ice Land by Betsy Tobin (more on that soon) and so, despite the fact I'm supposed to be on my way to Australia from the armchair, I've slotted in a detour to fourteenth century Norway.
I think once you get the language into your head it's fine and because I've recently been visiting an Icelandic family at work I am suddenly completely au fait with the patronymic 'father's first name-dottir' surname for a girl and 'father's first name -son' for a boy and have been busy explaining it to everyone else. I actually only know because Icelandic crime writer Arnaldur Indridason explains it all so well in his books.
So it was off to the Nordic department and Kristin Lavransdatter : 1 - The Bridal Wreath is in its very early stages and already feels right for the moment. Kristin is seven years old and already a beautiful little girl currenty riding pillion on her father Lavrans' horse as they travel up into the mountains. Out of habit I tend to take the first few chapters of any book very very slowly, re-reading them if necessary; setting the scene and the history properly feels crucial to an appreciation of this mammoth work with all its complexities of genealogy and geography. I need to get it set out right in my mind from the off,
'When the lands and goods of Ivar Gjesling the younger of Sundbu, were divided after his death in 1306, his lands in Sil of Gudbrandsal fell to his daughter Ragnfrid and her husband Lavrans Bjorgulfson.Up to then they lived on Lavran's manor of Skog at Follo, near Oslo; but now they moved up to Jorundgaard at the top of the open lands of Sil.'
Yes indeed I need to concentrate.
I shall have to do some background reading on Sigrid Undset because I know nothing and she sounds fascinating. A Norwegian born in Denmark in 1881, died in 1949, worked with the Norwegian underground during the Second World War, this book was published in 1923 and Undset was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928.
That sounds like one very interesting life and I think I'm in for a great read, amazing how a book can sit there for years biding its time.
Any Lavrandsdatter/Undset fans out there?