This past week I read the very last page of the massive trilogy, Kristin Lavransdatter by Norwegian author Sigrid Undset. As I got to the end of it, I deliberately slowed down….I had been with these characters for so long (over 1100 pages, in fact!) that I hated the idea of finishing. But, I knew I had to, and I was glad to finally have this book that has been on my ‘to be read’ list for many years completed. Kristin Lavransdatter will be with me for a long, long time!
I’m not sure if you recall, but back at the beginning of 2020 (approximately a million years ago, or so it seems!) I had the idea to spend the year exploring all things Scandinavian. I wanted to read books, learn and further explore crafts, do deep dives and just go all-out on my love of all things Swedish and Norwegian. I made a good start of it, but we all know what happened in March of that year….the pandemic began and changed things forever for all of us.
However, as this year began to unfold, despite all its unexpected events, I felt the urge to revisit my idea of exploring Scandinavian culture, books, crafts and food. I had the sudden urge to get my massive tome of Kristin Lavransdatter off my book shelf– a book I had read a bit of a few years before, and had even painted the main character for a custom portrait and sell prints of it in my shop. For some reason, I was in the frame of mind to be open to this big, amazing book that helped its author win the Nobel Prize in Literature in the 1920s. And once I started exploring 14th century Norway was little Kristin, who soon grew up and found herself in all sorts of trouble, intrigue and drama, well, I couldn’t put the book down.
And so, beginning with Kristin Lavrandatter and her author Sigrid Undset, I’d like to pick up my interest in Scandinavian subjects and invite you to join me— for Fika and Folk Art.
Now, you may be asking yourself— what in the world is Fika?? Well, it is something wonderful and delicious, a noun as well as a verb. At first glance, it may just be described as a ‘coffee break’, but in Scandinavia, especially Sweden, it is a time to take a moment out of your day to relax and chat with a friend, enjoy some coffee and a treat. It is an intentional time to be with friends, and everyone– no matter if they work in an office, a factory, a school or at home– takes time for the pleasure of fika (pronounced FEE-ka.)
And so, I thought a bit of fika would be the perfect time to get together with you, no matter where you are or when you’re reading this, and share my love of all things Scandinavian. Coffee is optional, of course (although I do love a good cup or two of coffee!) but its my hope that any time you join me for ‘fika and folk art’ you feel like we’ve had a good chat and that its been a nice part of your day. Now– get your cup of something delicious and a bit of cake and let’s chat Kristin Lavransdatter….
The book begins with little Kristin at just 7 years old, joining her father, Lavrans on a journey. We get to know the world of medieval, rural Norway through her young eyes, a world that is an intriguing mix of old pagan ways and newer Catholic Christianity. It is a world where strange creatures live in the dense forests, trying to lure young children into the mysterious depths of the mountains, but also a world very much revolving around Christ, the Church, The Virgin Mary and, of course– St. Olav!
As Kristin grows, we accompany her as she becomes betrothed and falls in love— and not with the same guy! Kristin- guided by her will and her pride- bends life to her desires, for better and for worse. As book 1 ends, we could view it as a bit of a fairytale, of true love conquering all. But Sigrid Undset leads us on a more rich and interesting adventure than that— we see Kristin live out a lifetime dealing with the consequence of her actions, and how those around her are affected by them.
We accompany Kristin along life’s journey, all the way to her last breath. And when the book is finally over, you feel (or at least I did) that you have said a final farewell to many dear friends.
I know many people count Kristin Lavransdatter as their favorite book of All Time. I feel like I have been similarly moved. There is SO much to ponder and unpack in this story– and you find yourself relating to Kristin (in all her flaws!) in different ways as she grows from little maiden to mother to older woman. I’ve had a lot of fun chatting about each part in my instagram posts— as well as doing some serious rabbit hole adventures in my stories (which are saved in my story highlights if you’d like to see them) and I’d like to share more here on my blog in the future.
In the instagram bookclub, we are finishing the book this week. You are very welcome to join us if you’re there– but I’d also like to extend the conversation to this more permanent place on my blog. I also want to do a bit of celebrating for those of us who’ve taken this huge book on and finished it! And I’ve got some treats in store for you this week!
The first being— a giveaway!
To celebrate our reading of Kristin Lavransdatter, and to begin this new series here on my blog, I am going to giveaway ONE FREE 8×10″ PRINT to a lucky winner! You can choose between my print “Norwegian Bride” (shown above on the left) and “Kristin Lavransdatter” (shown above on the right.) Both are associated with Norway and it’s traditions.
You can enter to win by leaving a comment here on the blog or leaving a comment/sharing the post that you will find on instagram today. If you share this post on your social media, just leave an additional comment (either here or on the instagram post) to let me know!
The winner will be selected on Friday April 8. Good Luck!
I’m so glad you came by my blog today! I’d love to hear your thoughts about this book– have you read it? What character did you relate to most? Do you see yourself in Kristin? Perhaps more at one stage in life than another? What wisdom do you feel you’ve gained from reading her life story?
Thanks so much for your visit today, be sure to come back to see what other treats I have in store for you! It is Kristin Lavransdatter week here on the blog, and it should be lots of fun!