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1. Kristin Lavransdatter II: The
2. Kristin Lavransdatter - The Cross
3. Kristin Lavransdatter: (Penguin
4. Gunnar's Daughter (Penguin Twentieth-Century
5. Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath
6. Catherine of Siena
7. The Bridal Wreath: Kristin Lavransdatter,
8. The Axe
9. The Mistress of Husaby: Kristin
10. The Unknown Sigrid Undset: Jenny
11. The Master of Hestviken: The Axe,
12. Jenny (Dodo Press)
13. Kristin Lavransdatter: A Trilogy:
14. In the Wilderness: The Master
15. The Faithful Wife
16. Sigrid Undset: Kristentro og kirkesyn
17. Sigrid Undset: Chronicler of Norway
18. Kristin Lavransdatter: The bridal
19. Jenny, a Novel
20. Sigrid Undset: On Saints and Sinners

1. Kristin Lavransdatter II: The Wife (Penguin Classics)
by Sigrid Undset
Paperback: 448 Pages (1999-11-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$6.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141181281
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In Kristin Lavransdatter (1920-1922), Sigrid Undset interweaves political, social, and religious history with the daily aspects of family life to create a colorful, richly detailed tapestry of Norway during the fourteenth-century. The trilogy, however, is more than a journey into the past. Undset's own life—her familiarity with Norse sagas and folklore and with a wide range of medieval literature, her experiences as a daughter, wife, and mother, and her deep religious faith—profoundly influenced her writing. Her grasp of the connections between past and present and of human nature itself, combined with the extraordinary quality of her writing, sets her works far above the genre of "historical novels." This new translation by Tina Nunnally—the first English version since Charles Archer's translation in the 1920s—captures Undset's strengths as a stylist. Nunnally, an award-winning translator, retains the natural dialog and lyrical flow of the original Norwegian, with its echoes of Old Norse legends, while deftly avoiding the stilted language and false archaisms of Archer's translation. In addition, she restores key passages left out of that edition.

Undset's ability to present a meticulously accurate historical portrait without sacrificing the poetry and narrative drive of masterful storytelling was particularly significant in her homeland. Granted independence in 1905 after five hundred years of foreign domination, Norway was eager to reclaim its national history and culture. Kristin Lavransdatter became a touchstone for Undset's contemporaries, and continues to be widely read by Norwegians today. In the more than 75 years since it was first published, it has also become a favorite throughout the world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Five Stars for Kristin Lavrandatter
An absolute classic; moving personal account of a woman's life which all women (and men) would enjoy. Norway in the 1300's comes alive in this incredible family saga.

4-0 out of 5 stars new look at Kristen Lavransdatter
my old copy of the book was of an earlier translation and was hard reading--a good story but not easy to get "to the meat" of it. This translation is so much better, it makes the character of Kristen easier to understand and her problems easier to relate to. I am amazed at home much her husband Erlend and my husband had in common! The triology is a great read! Don't miss it in the translation by Tiina Nunnally.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kristin Lavransdatter II: The Wife (Penguin Classics)
A great book for those who love to read good literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars After the Romance
Most romance novels present us with the trials and tribulations of star-crossed lovers, who in the end marry and live happily ever after.The first volume of Sigrid Undset's fine trilogy, THE WREATH, took us through the romance between Kristin Lavransdatter and Erland, concluding in their wedding.Unlike most romance novels, however, that novel foreshadowed the difficulties that the protagonists were likely to encounter in marriage.THE WIFE is the story of that marriage, with all of its strengths and weaknesses.

Once again, Undset succeeds in depicting a wide range of real people, in all their human glory.Kristin begins the novel with a pilgrimage in penance for her sin (she was already pregnant on her wedding day), and while she finds forgiveness, she struggles through the rest of the novel to learn how to forgive her husband.Erland begins the novel as an irresponsible man who seems lucky to have someone like Kristin.By the end of the novel, we see him rising above anything that could have been expected of him as he faces torture and imprisonment with dignity.There are no good guys and bad guys here, just human beings doing their best, yet struggling with their own passions and limitations.Undset's insight into the human condition is remarkable.And while Kristin and Erland do not achieve the illusory, romantic happiness that is celebrated in most romance novels, they find themselves with something much richer: a marriage in which a husband and a wife have learned to love each other in full knowledge of their mutual failings.

Undset was a great student of human nature, and she particularly understood our failings and our need to find redemption.By the end of the novel, Kristin has learned much in life, but her journey is not yet over.And so we move on to the final volume, THE CROSS.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kristin Lavransdatter II, The Bride
Sigrid Undset was the first woman to win the Nobel prize for literature. Since Kristin Lavransdatter was first published in America in the 1920s, succeeding generations have read it and found Kristin and Erland's storyresonated in their hearts in a way that few books do. Undset has the raregift of understanding the inner feelings of men as well as women.

Thosewho have struggled with the artificially archaic language of CharlesArcher's translation will welcome this new version by Tiina Nunnally.Shehas also restored some parts that Archer eliminated, perhaps because hefound them too sexually explicit for readers of English in the1920s.

But, by all means start with the first volume, which, with volumeIII, is also available in the Nunnally translation.

Edmond Bliven ... Read more

2. Kristin Lavransdatter - The Cross
by Sigrid Undset
Paperback: 380 Pages (2009-04-14)
list price: US$30.95 -- used & new: US$24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1444627996
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!
This series was excellent. I enjoyed reading the series and then shared it with my daughter who is living in Norway.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kristin Lavransdatter III: The Cross (Penguin Classics)
I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read good literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars no title
After having read all three books - Wow!She deserved the Nobel Prize.This last book is a great read - much exciting stuff.And how she understood what a mother feels about her sons - and their leaving her.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kristin Lavransdatter, The Wreath, The Wife, The Cross
Sigrid Undset is a master at character and place.She seamlessly draws you into medieval Norway while captivating you with the depth and humanity of her characters.I read them breathlessly captivated.No wonder Ms. Undset received a Nobel Prize for these historical novels--among the best I've ever read.Bravo, Sigrid Undset.

5-0 out of 5 stars I'm not usually moved by books but....
...this one brought me to tears in more than one place. If you're reading "The Cross," or considering purchasing it, you've probably already read the first two books in the series and are caught up in the story. Is this book worth it? Yes. It's not an uplifting read by any means, but it brings the Kristin story to a logical -- though heartbreaking -- conclusion. I am in awe of Undset for her creation of such believable characters, and grateful to her for this glimpse into medieval life. Nunnally's translation is clear and reads smoothly. This, along with "The Wreath" and "The Wife," is one of those books you hate to see end. ... Read more

3. Kristin Lavransdatter: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
by Sigrid Undset
Paperback: 1168 Pages (2005-09-27)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$13.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143039164
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In her great historical epic Kristin Lavransdatter, set in fourteenth-century Norway, Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset tells the life story of one passionate and headstrong woman. Painting a richly detailed backdrop, Undset immerses readers in the day-to-day life, social conventions, and political and religious undercurrents of the period. Now in one volume, Tiina Nunnally’s award-winning definitive translation brings this remarkable work to life with clarity and lyrical beauty.

As a young girl, Kristin is deeply devoted to her father, a kind and courageous man. But when as a student in a convent school she meets the charming and impetuous Erlend Nikulaussøn, she defies her parents in pursuit of her own desires. Her saga continues through her marriage to Erlend, their tumultuous life together raising seven sons as Erlend seeks to strengthen his political influence, and finally their estrangement as the world around them tumbles into uncertainty.

With its captivating heroine and emotional potency, Kristin Lavransdatter is the masterwork of Norway’s most beloved author—one of the twentieth century’s most prodigious and engaged literary minds—and, in Nunnally’s exquisite translation, a story that continues to enthrall. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (44)

3-0 out of 5 stars Tedious
Firstly, I must admit that I never finished the book.I read reviews and took a risk given that it was apparently heavy on religion, but my desire for good historical fiction compelled me to give it a try considering it won a Nobel Prize.I only got about half-way through and got tired of reading about incessant confessions and piety.Most of the first half did have very interesting accounts of day-to-day life in 14th Century Norway along with a story-line that kept my interest and wasn't bogged down in too much religion, but it eventually became too stifling and the story's momentum was lost in Kristin's endless droning about her sins.I tried many times to pick up where I left off, but I rarely got very far.It's very possible I missed a great conclusion to the story based on what I've read in other reviews, but I just couldn't get over the hurdle; I didn't want to be drawn into the depressing account of someone's dissatisfaction with their life.For those considering buying this book just be prepared to endure some tedious reading.I would only recommend this to someone who is interested in, or at least has a high tolerance for, theological analysis of human behavior.

4-0 out of 5 stars Foreign material!
I was fascinated by this trilogy, losing sleep many nights in a row because of it. I loved the introduction to the middle age culture in Norway, the beginning of Christianity in that region especially as it covertly contradicted the still-practiced traditional beliefs, I identified with Kristen and also wondered at her thought process. I really enjoyed these books, and would find it difficult to read one without reading all three of them. This edition was great for just reading right through- right through the books and right through the night. :)

5-0 out of 5 stars Captivating Story
I just finished Kristin Lavransdatter, and I highly recommend it. It has captivating depiction of 14th century Norway with character development that will be sure to suck you in. The themes of sin, guilt and forgiveness make it an amazing work.

1-0 out of 5 stars Am I alone.
I have been reading for 45 years in 7 Languages and absolutely love good Literature. I adored War & Peace,everything written by Marquez (my favorite)I like Proust and Joyce but I have arrived at page 450 of this novel and I hate it.
It seems written by a religiously obsessed woman. The whole novel is a constant whining,tears and sorrow. I certainly can understand the time-period given that I am an Archeologist and European. From the first 50 pages I already knew that I was not going to like this but I keep on dragging myself from page to page hoping that it will take a different turn. I must be the only person on the planet thinks this way. I usually don't write reviews but I just had to get this of my heart.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Life Truly Lived
I just finished reading this epic and came here to see what regular readers have to say about it.

5 stars from me and I will blog about it soon. I loved every page of the book and am envious of those who haven't yet started reading it, for it is a most satisfying journey - the life and thoughts of Kristen Lavransdatter - as child, as maiden, as daughter, as lover, as wife, as sister, as friend, as lady, as mother, as grandmother, as sinner, as nun, as God's hardworking child.

Here's a tip - have a paper and pencil and now and then make a drawing of family trees! It's Norway in the middle-ages where I imagine the population might have been maybe a few hundred thousand perhaps? Well, lineage is very important and half the plots wouldn't be plots if no one cared about family names and lineages. In some instances I really had to turn back pages to see who exactly was whose kinsman's child out of wedlock through which servant!

(EDITED TO ADD - I just checked wikipedia and there is a family tree there. Both, the fictional characters and historical ones. Damn. Wish I had a print out of this while reading the book!)

If you love sagas, read this. And remember not to judge the moral standards weaved through the book with current day moral standards. Sounds obvious, but sometimes there were times when I wanted to tell Kristen, "Ok.. big deal, you conceived a child before marriage. Get over it, just forget it and don't let it ruin your life." and then I would check myself and again look at the situation from her point of view. It wasn't too hard for me to empathize with her at most times and that's why I found it rewarding. If you are easily annoyed with religious people and unwilling to be patient with their logic and conversations they have with themselves, then you may tire of this book.

I for one, need to find more of Sigrid Undset's books. ... Read more

4. Gunnar's Daughter (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
by Sigrid Undset
Paperback: 208 Pages (1998-04-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014118020X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Set in Norway and Iceland at the beginning of the 11th century, Gunnar s Daughter tells the story of a beautiful, spoiled young woman who, after being raped by the man she had wanted to love, raises the child conceived in violence. Alone she rebuilds her life and restores her family s honor--until an unremitting social code propels her to take the action that again destroys her happiness. Author: Sigrid Undset Format: 208 pages, paperback Publisher: Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780141180205 ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sparser than her later works but fascinating just the same
This is a much sparser version of her work than her later novel Kristin Lavransdatter. It gives much less detail and characterization so you might find it dry in comparison. I'm glad I read it but I didn't like it nearly as much as I'd anticipated based on her later writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars a MUST-READ for a book club
This novella should fit comfortably beside the plays of Sophocles or Aeschylus or the tragedies of Shakespeare. Don't let that intimidate you: it's more accessible than all of them, and a perfect book for a book club. It's the story of a man who commits a despicable act of violence in his immaturity, against a woman who must live with the consequences all her life - as must he. Questions of justice, repentance, mercy, and forgiveness are raised - and left to readers to answer as best we can. Undset's portrayals of the characters maximize the difficulties of these questions and the discussions which readers will be craving after finishing this fine book. I picked it up to see if I like Undset enough to commit to 1000 pages of Kristen Lavransdatter. I have since picked up that meganovel - and find it, so far, less engaging by far than Gunnar's Daughter, which deserves one of the highest places in the canon of Western literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars The more things change. . . .
In writing Gunnar's Daughter, Sigrid Undset had two aims: to show that the struggles of the human person against himself, others, and nature have no history; and to reveal a pagan past as it actually was--cruel and bloody in contrast to the growing Christian faith it encountered. In both cases, she succeeded brilliantly.

Take the first case. You often hear yammering from certain quarters that it is possible for human beings to progress as a society beyond their passions. Myopic nonsense! The characters of Gunnar's Daughter hurt themselves and others, and love as much as they hate, with exactly the same capacity as anyone today. An honest reader will realize that we are no better at heart than the men (and woman) whose stories are told here--but also that we are no worse. What we have hated and loved and yearned for, men and women have always hated and loved and yearned for. In reading this you realize for the first time that you can actually appreciate your ancestors as living men and women, and not as faceless DNA donors.

In the second case, in Undset's time--the early 20th century--there was then as now the movement to glorify the pre-Christian past, the sort of naivety only possible from the safety of the Christianized world. Undset was rightly disturbed by this movement, and in Gunnar's Daughter she draws the picture of bloody, violent, might-makes-right world--and better yet, shows the redeeming effect of Christianity as it makes its way into Scandinavia. Contrast Vigdis' exposure of her healthy but unwanted infant--an unremarkable event in her time, even if, as Undset shows, one not done without lingering sorrow--with the later refusal of Viga-Lyot to expose his deformed and sickly baby expressly because, as he states, he is a Christian, and will not hear of it. This is of even more interest in our day, when the growing nonChristian influence on our society has led us full circle to a time when once again the unwanted baby is done away with--Undset's picture was more prescient than she knew.

All in all, a haunting and true book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Very Fine Example of the Saga as Modern Novel
In this case of medieval date rape and the grim consequences which follow hard upon it, Sigrid Undset created a wonderfully literate experience using the saga "voice". Although I detected slippages in tone, here and there, and felt the ending too contrived and overwrought to be pure saga, I was still swept along by this book, finishing it in a single sitting. It is short, yes, but also a very compelling narrative as it details the tribulations of two would-be lovers who are yet too proud and self-willed for their own good or for the society in which they find themselves. As with the typical viking hero, Viga-Ljot is overly confident of his own charms and impatient of results. And Vigdis, the maid he has set his heart on, is no less aloof and overbearing in her own way than that historical figure, Sigrid the Haughty, who so angered King Olaf Tryggvesson that he slapped her in the midst of their courtship and thereby sealed his doom. Viga-Ljot does much worse in this tale and his fate is thus forever bound up with a woman who cannot forget or forgive him. Like Gudrun Osvif's daughter in Laxdaela Saga, Vigdis bides her time and nurses her pain but, in the end, that pain is not assuaged by the actions she takes, for it is ultimately destructive to everyone it touches.

A good example of the saga form in modern literature indeed, and yet, despite the finely tuned prose of this novel, capturing the nuances and understatement of the saga voice with masterly strokes, there is an underlying stridency here, an almost emotional overreaching which is not, itself, true to the saga form. In some ways this book is too modern and its author's sensibility, at this juncture in her career, almost too young and unseasoned. Undset seems to be reaching for the tragic denouement of the Greek classics to end her tautly told tale rather than content herself with the flatly understated and finely nuanced wrap-up more appropriate to the saga form. But this Greek-like ending left me much colder than the drily tossed-off afterthought of a true saga might have done. And yet, for all that, Undset has here given us one of the better modern novels done in saga form. My hat is off to her.

By the way, for another really fine novel based on the old sagas, one, in fact, that I think outdoes even this one, try SAGA: A NOVEL OF MEDIEVAL ICELAND by contemporary Canadian author Jeff Janoda. Many have tried to evoke the sagas in modern prose but few have done it as well as he has. Janoda has written a contemporary novel that does genuine justice to its original source, Eyrbyggja Saga, while not succumbing to the overwrought sensibility which mars GUNNAR'S DAUGHTER at the end. If you like fiction grounded in the old Norse saga literature, then Janoda's book should be your very next stop.

author of The King of Vinland's Saga

5-0 out of 5 stars Same old same old
Undset, Lagerlof, Bjornson, Hamsun, Gustafsson; five stars aren't enoughto reflect the masterpieces that they all wrote, and, in the case ofGustafsson, are still writing. Read all their books and grow a lifetime ina couple of years.

I suppose that anything that sells books makes it tothe top of the page, although I appreciate that the first review I readabout this book was straightforward, unbiased and sans agenda.I have beenreading the great writers of the world since I learned to read. I began toexplore the works of Undset, Lagerlof, Bjornson, Hamsun, Gustafsson, etc.,thirty years ago and it irks me no end that the works of a Scandinavianwriter like Undset, who lived in a time when women had all the rights inthe world, should be referenced by your commentator from Brattleboro, VT aswomens fiction. If she has read "The Master of Hestviken" or"Kristen Lavransdatter", then she must have missed all thesuffering endured by the men and women. Great works of creativity do notaddress personal agendas. They are wrought from the soul. Lagerlofs'"Saga of Gosta Berling", another masterpiece, explores the samemoral questions with a male protagonist. I say to you, dear lady fromVermont, that feminism is dead; we are all feminine and masculineregardless of our plumbing, and the last GREAT female poet, Sylvia Plath,lived the pain of that polarity until it killed her.Shame on youAmazon.com for using divisiveness and the promulgation of hatred, fear, andmisunderstanding to make a buck. Publish this!! ... Read more

5. Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath (Penguin Classics)
by Sigrid Undset
Paperback: 336 Pages (1997-12-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141180412
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In Kristin Lavransdatter (1920-1922), Sigrid Undset interweaves political, social, and religious history with the daily aspects of family life to create a colorful, richly detailed tapestry of Norway during the fourteenth-century. The trilogy, however, is more than a journey into the past. Undset's own life-her familiarity with Norse sagas and folklore and with a wide range of medieval literature, her experiences as a daughter, wife, and mother, and her deep religious faith-profoundly influenced her writing. Her grasp of the connections between past and present and of human nature itself, combined with the extraordinary quality of her writing, sets her works far above the genre of "historical novels." This new translation by Tina Nunnally-the first English version since Charles Archer's translation in the 1920s-captures Undset's strengths as a stylist. Nunnally, an award-winning translator, retains the natural dialog and lyrical flow of the original Norwegian, with its echoes of Old Norse legends, while deftly avoiding the stilted language and false archaisms of Archer's translation. In addition, she restores key passages left out of that edition.

Undset's ability to present a meticulously accurate historical portrait without sacrificing the poetry and narrative drive of masterful storytelling was particularly significant in her homeland. Granted independence in 1905 after five hundred years of foreign domination, Norway was eager to reclaim its national history and culture. Kristin Lavransdatter became a touchstone for Undset's contemporaries, and continues to be widely read by Norwegians today. In the more than 75 years since it was first published, it has also become a favorite throughout the world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (36)

3-0 out of 5 stars The Masterpiece and Its Translation
Undset's trilogy is a masterpiece. I read it first in high school, and I've been rereading it ever since.When my book, which was an Archer translation, disintegrated, I bought a replacement. Unfortunately, the translation was the "modern" one the reviewers here like so much.Well, I found it prosaic, emotionally flat. It did depict more sex, but the passion was gone.Because I read the Archer trnslation, I cannot imagine calling this book a romance.I tossed the modern translationm and bought an Archer translation in a secondhand store.Our reviews sound like reviews of the bible.We can agree that the bible is a great book, but we can't agree on the translation to read.Pick the translation you think you'd like, and then read the book.

2-0 out of 5 stars A perfect calming book if you wanna sleep!
Well this book is about a young girl coming of age in medieval christian Norway. The people still partly believe in the old hearthern beliefs. Somewhat this novel (written in 1920) is a forerunner of a genre which became very popular in the latter half of the century: The historic novel. The pace of the novel seemed a bit stale to me, but it has some beauty. The view point is seen from the main character, Kristin Lavransdatter, a daughter of a prominent nobleman.The book is very womanish, so it's all about love, marriage, passion, children, pregnancy, fidelity - slightly boring! A problem about the novel is that it all the way through just proceeds in it's own tranquile pace, it lacks dynamics! If you are in a bathtub with hot water and just wanna read something calming, this is the perfect novel to read to fall asleep! The Kristin Lavransdatter character is quite strong and willful, she manages to oppose her father in the choise of marriage partner and also become pregnant 3 months before her marriage. I am not that well versed in medieval Norwegian history, but somewhat it seems that Undsets female character is a bit too free and selfwilled to be trustworthy in a medieval setting. One should think that women of nobility, in medieval christian Norway, was more suppressed and chaste!

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
The Wreath is the first book in a trilogy focusing on the life of Kristin Lavransdatter, a fictional woman living in early 14th century Norway. The trilogy covers her life from early childhood until death; and in one volume, is about 1000 pages (I'm reading the trilogy in the individual volumes published by Penguin classics, so that all of this doesn't become too overwhelming). The Wreath covers Kristin's childhood and teenage years, as she falls in love, and has an illicit relationship, with Erlend Nikulausson, an older man with a shadowy past.

The three volumes of Kristin Lavransdatter (The Wreath, The Wife, and The Cross) were originally published in the early 1920s. Apparently, Sigrid Undset's writing was largely informed by her Catholic religious beliefs, and I do believe that this is very much in evidence in The Wreath--starting with Kristin's trip to the church at Hamar and the author's descriptions of the church, the influence of religion is very strong in our heroine's life. And yet, this is not a particularly religious book. Sigrid Undset merely emphasizes the importance of Kristin's faith, in a time when the church more or less informed and defined people's lives.

The characters in the novel are particularly strong and well-depicted. Kristin, normally a quiet and obedient girl, is nonetheless courageous enough to defy the wishes of her parents, and the bonds of her engagement to Simon, to fall in love with a man that the other characters in the novel, and the reader, really have no cause to trust. As Erlend declares his undying love for Kristin, I kept wondering, how serious his he? Even after finishing the first volume of this trilogy, I still don't know what's going on with him. Only time, and further reading, will tell.

As for the translation, I read Tina Nunnally's version; I've heard that Archer's is a bit archaic. I recently read an interview with Nunnally, in which she discusses Archer's nearly leaving out the sex scenes in the book--they're actually rather tame and muted in comparison with what you find in novels published today. I obviously don't know Norwegian, and can't compare this translation to the original book, but I've found Nunnally's version to be extremely readable.

4-0 out of 5 stars Classic Read
A classic coming of age story that everyone should read. Kristin's struggles with sin and relationships are portrayed with beauty and grace in this lovely historical novel. It's not a particularly happy or pleasant story, but the characters are well developed and strong. The protagonist feels very real, and I understand why the author was given a Nobel Prize for literature as it was likely groundbreaking for literature of her culture and time.

It was well translated and I plan to finish the trilogy. Definitely stick to this translation (by Nunnally) - it's superior in many ways.

3-0 out of 5 stars Wreath
This book is a nice, easy read.The character descriptions are great, and as the plot develops your opinions of the characters will change.Even as Kristin (the main character) changes, the way she sees and describes other characters changes.This is an interesting tale of a daughter and her father and her journey from his loving home into her own as she matures. ... Read more

6. Catherine of Siena
by Sigrid Undset
Paperback: 335 Pages (2009-10-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$10.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1586174088
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Sigrid Undset's Catherine of Siena is critically acclaimed as one of the best biographies of this famous fourteenth-century saint. Known for her historical fiction, which won her the Nobel Prize for literature in 1928, Undset based this factual work on primary sources, her experiences living in Italy, and her profound understanding of the human heart.

One of the greatest novelists of the twentieth century, Undset was no stranger to hagiography. Her meticulous research of medieval times, which bore such fruit in her masterpieces Kristin Lavransdatter and The Master of Hestviken, acquainted her with some of the holy men and women produced by the Age of Faith. Their exemplary lives left a deep impression upon the author, which she credited as one of her reasons for entering the Church in 1924.

Catherine of Siena was a particular favorite of Undset, who also was a Third Order Dominican. An extraordinarily active, intelligent, and courageous woman, Catherine at an early age devoted herself to the love of God. The intensity of her prayer, sacrifice, and service to the poor won her a reputation for holiness and wisdom, and she was called upon to make peace between warring nobles. Believing that peace in Italy could only be achieved if the pope, then living in France, returned to Rome, Catherine boldly traveled to Avignon to meet with Pope Gregory XI.

With sensitivity to the zealous love that permeated the life of Saint Catherine, Undset presents a most moving and memorable portrait of one of the greatest women of all time. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars beautifully written
Sigrid Undset has written a compelling portrait of Catherine; part of me says, 'so this is what saints are made of'.Too good to be true or both true and good?Maybe by the time I finish the book I'll understand and/or believe.

5-0 out of 5 stars luminious biography
This is a superb biography of Catherine, extremely readable (almost like a novel) and clearly written by a person who shares the saint's faith. Anyone wanting to know who Catherine was or to understand her should read this.

5-0 out of 5 stars sensational read!
This book is exceptionally well written and very insightful.If you want a great introduction to this saint, read this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Catherine of Siena
Sigrid Unsted is recognized as one of the outstanding female authors of modern times. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928.Her biography of Catherine of Siena appeared in English in 1954, after her death in !949. Unsted was noted for her historical novels and Catherine of Siena is the product of a close study of the voluminous documents created by contemporary authors in the mid 14th century. These documents reveal the mind and thoughts of an outstanding female mystic who lived at the time of the Avignon Captivity of the Papacy and the turbulent period in Rome and the northern City-States in Tuscany. It is the story of an extraordinary heroine of the times narrated almost verbatim from the dictated notes of her personal secretaries. I found the book to be absorbing and uplifting. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best biographies of a saint. Ever.
It takes a great writer to tackle a subject like Catherine of Siena, whose life was such a breathtaking blend of mysticism and involvement in the world.Undset, who once won the Nobel Prize, is beautifully up to the job.The result is this fascinating book, which follows Catherine from her birth as the last child in a well off but unimportant family to her dealings with murderers, kings, and popes.

Like Padre Pio, Catherine experienced a vision as a child.It was only the smallest of beginnings, because Catherine later experienced many visions. She also felt the wounds of the stigmata, although they were not visible to others. Not, at least, until she died, when the wounds were suddenly apparent. She ate nothing other than the Eucharist for the last half of her life.

After taking the Eucharist, she fell into an ecstasy for hours. Annoyed clerics sometimes dragged her stiff figure from the church and tossed her outside. Once,a young woman "stuck a large needle in Catherine's foot to see whether it was true that she felt nothing" (p 184). Catherine didn't move during the ecstasy. For two days later, however, she couldn't put her foot down.

There were miracles galore in her adult life.Some were humble miracles, such as the ones recounted by her spiritual child and later biographer, Fra Raimondo, who recalled how the Host would quiver in his hand before he would give it to Catherine. "Once, moreover, he was convinced that a piece of the consecrated Host had left the altar in a quite inexplicable way, and had been brought to Catherine without the help of human hands" (P 153).

Some of the miracles were quite spectacular, such as when the black plague swept through Europe, and Catherine healed many.

Most famously, Catherine worked to return the pope to Rome.Rome, at the time, wasa virtual wasteland, surrounded by gangs of bandits, and wholly without appeal to anyone living in France, as the pope was at the time.She scolded, prayed for, and advised, scores of kings, and many popes.

Her life is spectacular, her achievements immense. ... Read more

7. The Bridal Wreath: Kristin Lavransdatter, Vol.1
by Sigrid Undset
Paperback: 288 Pages (1987-05-12)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$2.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394752996
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Volume one of the trilogy; Kristin's girlhood. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars A gripping triliogy set in a fascinating background
Before you read this, you must know that Kristin Lavransdatter is my all time favorite piece of literature, so my opinions may be a bit biased. I first began this trilogy when I was in high school. I made it as far as Kristin's wedding and then I lost interest.I did not understand many of the emotions that Undset's characters were experiencing.Later on, five years later, when I was married and pregnant with my first child, I restarted and could not put the book down. Undset had such deep and clear insights into sin,love, marriage, family, children,spirituality, and the the human heart in general, that I was truly riveted by the story. Her characters are so incredibly real and the historical facts so painstakingly researched, that I still have trouble believing Kristin is a figment of her imagination. The plot line has so many twists and turns that you will not be bored for a moment. The historical facts are very detailed, but I have never found them tedious. Everything I have ever read on Undset describes her as unerring in the historical realm. She gave me a fascination for the middle ages, a time I have always found difficult to imagine since their mindset and customs were so different from today's. I will not give away any of the story since that is the joy of a novel, but I will say it reads like a real life story rather than a fairy tale or romance. There are tears, joy, anger, and disappointment in this woman's life. This trilogy is a must read, especially if you are at all interested in Norwegian or medieval history or in Catholicism which dominates the whole tone of the story. I believe women will enjoy the story more than men because of the drama and emotions,especially in family life - but there are many men who love these books too. I've read the books four times and I'm on my fifth run. I find a different nuance or aspect of the story each time I reread it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful insight into life in Norway in the middle ages
As the trilogy has come so highly recommended by so many whose opinions I respect, I finally got around to reading the first volume and I found it unputtdownable. This tale of a young maiden coming of age, who is first bethrothed and is then seduced by a man she passionately falls for is beautifully told - one smells and breathes in the landscape and the times. And the rich backdrop of catholic norway with its saints and feast days makes one long again for a europe united under catholicism.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nordic Romance
Volume one of a trilogy about the title character, Kristin Lavransdatter who grew up in the early 14th century. This book stands on it own as a fine novel. Orginally written in the 1920's the author received a Noble Prize for Literature in the 1930's and at that time this had been her only novel, she had several short stories before this three volume gem. If you ever go to Norway, all of the places and most of the churches, castles, cities and country side sight seeing locations are still there to see.

1-0 out of 5 stars this translation is insufferable
This translation is difficult--difficult to read without gagging, that is. It's extremely stilted and affected. Every sentence reads something like this:

"When the child Kristin was seven years old, it so fell out that she got leave to go with her father..."

I don't have a problem with archaic language per se, but the translators of this version have no ear for language of any kind, in my opinion, and so this archaic prose never achieves any kind of naturalness.

Part of the problem may be that the translators never met an archaism they didn't like. In nearly EVERY line of the book Kristin "must needs" do this or would "nowise that" or so-and-so "was always for making merry."

It was so overdone--and so badly done--that I had trouble focusing on the story instead of on the irritating prose.

If you're interested in style and prose quality as well as plot, don't even think about buying this version.... get the Penguin translation instead.

3-0 out of 5 stars Ummm...
The book was pretty good, but WHY IS KRISTIN SUCH AN IDIOT?
That really annoyed me. ... Read more

8. The Axe
by Sigrid Undset
 Hardcover: Pages (1930)

Asin: B003HF4OH0
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Luminous Stuff
I had never read anything by Sigrid Undset until I read this novel, though I had wanted to for a while. Reading Undset sounded like a reading experience that couldn't be replicated, Who else is a female, Nobel-Prize-winning, Norwegian, historic novelist whose work is compared to Tolstoy's. Anyway, after reading The Axe (not even considered her best work), I would say she certainly lived up to my expectations.

The basic plot follows Olav Audunsson and Ingunn Steinfinnsdatter (don't be scared away by the names). They were betrothed as children under rather mysterious circumstances and were then raised together. Eventually, the two fall in love, and want to finally get married, seeing as they were betrothed to one another anyway. Times have changed, though, and the powers that be have decided to marry them off elsewhere. Olav and Ingunn vow to fight for their marriage, and the remainder of the action is this intense struggle.

The novel is superb. The writing at some moments, particularly the early love scenes, is truly sublime, with the lush imagery set up against the unique medieval Norwegian backdrop. I had to read a number of passages over and over just to reexperience their beauty. The moral scope of the novel also strikes me as particularly powerful and certainly invites comparison to Tolstoy. The events of the novel are all marked by a sin early in the novel which sends everyone into a moral tailspin. The characters are trapped in a moral maelstrom of their own making and in their struggle to find some sort of redemption is the ultimate meaning of the novel.

The Axe is one of the best novels I have ever read. Sigrid Undset cannot be forgotten. I can scarcely wait to read the rest of the Hestviken saga.

5-0 out of 5 stars A guide for the perplexed...
I've read The Axe twice.It is superb.Undset's peers are writers like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

However, my edition, at least, lacks family tree pages.So here's some help for those who might be confused.


Olav Audunsson is the novel's hero.He was fostered by Steinfinn Toresson, but his parents were Audun and Cecilia.Cecilia was daughter of Bjorn Andersson and Lady Margrete, whose first husband was Erik, their children being Erik and Barnim.Barnim is important to the young Olav Audunsson.

Audun was son of Ingolf and Ragna.Ingolf was one of five children of Olav Olavsson and Astrid Helgesdatter: the others were Helge, Halldis (who married Ivar Staal), Borgny, and Torgils "Foulbeard."Foulbeard, who is still alive when Olav Audunsson is a youth, was foster-brother with Olav Half-Priest.Foulbeard sired a son, Arne, on a woman named Astrid.Astrid's brother was Benedikt Besseson.Arne was the father of Signe, Una, and Torgunn.

Olav Olavsson was son of Olav Torgilsson and Tora Ingolfsdatter.Olav Olavsson's grandfather was Torgils of Dyfrin, a great estate that Olav Audunsson passes in the third novel of the Master of Hestviken quartet.The axe of the novel's title has passed down to Olav from the Dyfrin days.

Astrid Helgesdatter was sister of Ingolf Helgesson.

Olav Ingolfsson is an "old kinsman" of Olav Audunsson's; Ingolfsson's mother was Bergljot of Tveit, and his siblings include Kaare.

Olav Ribbung is a great-grandfather of Olav Audunsson.


Ingunn and Olav Audunsson become lovers in The Axe, their youthful desires coinciding with an ambiguous betrothal.Ingunn is one of four children, the others being Tora, Hallvard, and Jon, of Steinfinn and Ingebjorg.Tora marries Haakon Gautsson, who at one point might have married Ingunn.Haakon's sister is Helga.

Steinfinn is one of five children of Tore of Hov and Aasa.The others are Ivar, Magnhild, Herdis and Magnus.

Tore of Hov also sired children by his concubine, Borghild: at least two, Ragnhild and Kolbein.Olav Audunsson will kill one of Kolbein's sons, Einar.The other is Haftor.

Aasa, Tore's wife, is daughter of Magnus, and her siblings are Hillebjorg and Finn.Hillebjorg married a man named Finn, and their son was Arnvid, an important person in the lives of Olav and Ingunn.Arnvid was forced to marry Tordis; their children were Magnus, Funn, and Steinar.

If there are any inaccuracies above, I hope they can be set right!But I think the above is correct.

5-0 out of 5 stars A story of love set in medieval Norway
While this is not in the same class as the Kristen Lavransdatter trilogy which brought Undset the Nobel prize, The Master of Hestvicken series is a beautifully told story of love set in 13th century Norway. Undset's descriptions and attention to historical detail are wonderful as usual, but the love between Olav Audunsson & Ingunn Steinfinnsdatter is ill-fated and heavy. In Book 1, The Axe, Olav & Ingunn are joined together as children and parted by family disputes.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Saga
To understand The Axe one has to read the entire tetralogy of the Master of Hestviken.Therefore this review applies to the whole, as well as the part. A memorable saga, not only of a good man gone wrong (not gone bad) inthe incredibly harsh times of medieval Norway, but also of his soul throughthe various stages of Catholic spirituality and redemption.Sigrid Undsetis a master of both historical and spiritual fiction, as well as adeserving Nobel prize winner in literature.A must read for serious soulsearchers, but above all for serious Catholics.I felt I had insights intomy own nature as a person as I read about Olav Audunsson and participatedin his thoughts, troubles and dilemmas.A masterful work of literature.Norway is beautifully described together with its medieval traditions andbeliefs.If you enjoy good and serious historical fiction from a Christianperspective, you must read Sigrid Undset.

4-0 out of 5 stars A powerful saga of medieval times
Sigrid Undset favored this work over her more popular Kristin Lavransdatter.But I found it more difficult to relate to the lives of Olav Audunsson and his lover Ingunn Steinfinnsdatter, and had to read thebook several times before I remembered it as well as Kristin.There is anoverall atmosphere of hopelessness and depression that makes reading thebook somewhat agonizing.Yet, the characters, plot and setting areconveyed so realistically, that one feels as if one knows the characters. There is no doubt in my mind that this is truly a literary masterwork. ... Read more

9. The Mistress of Husaby: Kristin Lavransdatter, Vol. 2
by Sigrid Undset
Paperback: 382 Pages (1987-05-12)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$1.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394752937
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Part two is the story of Kristin's fifteen years of troubled married life on the great estate of Husaby. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully captures the spirit fo the middle ages
This second volume of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy beautifully captures the spirit of the times - there are many moving moments in this book - the tender scenes between Kristin and her father and the moving account of her father's death and, of course, the complex relationship existing between Kristin and her husband.This is marvelous stuff which takes you back to a faith filled time.

4-0 out of 5 stars no title
Not as good as the first volume.Beginning was horribly slow, but it picked up nicely in the last third or so.But you must read this one if you intend to do the whole trilogy, which is five star, all the way.Gripping and fascinating tale.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I ever read
I found an ancient copy of this book on my shelf that had been my father's. It actually fell apart by the time I finished reading it.The translation was very hard to read but it made me read everything thoroughly to understand what was going on.The prose made me feel as though I was acutally living during the 1300's.My emotions went all over the place and I could really identify with Kristen.Life at that time was so fragile and I found the characters amazingly positive and uplifting most of the time in spite of all the trials and tribulations that were experienced.Kristen's love for Erland was remarkable and seldom wavered in spite of the fact that he had glaring flaws that she could see. The tragedy is hard to match but I found I couldn't put the book down.Coming from a Nordic background helped me appreciate what my ancestors probably experienced in such a harsh world.I am looking forward to reading Sigrid Undset's other books.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book will stay with me the rest of my life.
Please don't read this book without having read The Bridal Wreath first,you must have the foundation laid before you can appreciate Kristin and herfamily and her life.This book tugged at me so emotionally that to thisday I still feel her feelings, I still get upset and her and Erlend.It iswell written and not only does it explain life has it may have been at thattime, it still has a ring of now, even though it was written in 1928.Butabove-all it captures and sends you to a world you will want to be a partof forever.DO NOT MISS THESE BOOKS!

3-0 out of 5 stars An enlightening look at life in 14th century Norway...
Though the political details and language slowed me down at times, I foundit fascinating to learn what life was like for a woman in Norway in the1300's.The social, economic, and political aspects of the time areinterestingly and thoroughly presented.I would suggest that not too manyyears go by between reading the books in the trilogy because you will havea greater appreciation for what is going on if you remember details fromthe previous books. ... Read more

10. The Unknown Sigrid Undset: Jenny and Other Works
by Sigrid Undset, Tim Page, Tiina Nunnally
Hardcover: 500 Pages (2001-05-10)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$18.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1586420216
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy is an internationally best-selling classic, but her earlier work has long been out of print. In this new collection, readers finally have a window into Undset’s views on women’s sexuality, the relationship between motherhood and art, and the complex dynamic between women and men. The book includes two short stories, “Simonsen” and “Tjodolf,” which capture the lives of people living in Christiana (now Oslo) in 1900; a novel, Jenny, which tells the story of a disenchanted painter; and an assortment of letters written between 1900 and 1922. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars The feminine yearning for a perfect love
"Jenny" is pre-Christian Undset but it is clear that her conversion was already beginning as she examines issues like integrity, love and suffering in a fated, godless universe. The author creates a deep, introspective feminine character that one suspects is quite a bit like her own. Jenny tries to live her life being true to herself, telling no lies. When she finds that she has sacrificed integrity to chase a counterfeit love, she cannot forgive herself. She suffers the loss of her child but cannot make sense of her grief. She passes a death sentence upon herself. Not long after Undset wrote the story, she found Catholicism and it's world where sin and suffering lead not to death but to the Redeemer.
Thjodolf is another tale in this collection where a woman's perfectionism in love leads to the self-destruction of her spirit. Yet this one ends with a ray of hope.

5-0 out of 5 stars As fresh and disturbing as today's headlines
Summary: Some early realist works by a Nobel Prize-winning author that read as if they were written today.
Pity the winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature who haven't the good fortune to write in English.If they aren't known in the English-speaking world before they win the international award, their works are quickly translated into English, and then just as quickly forgotten by all except the academics.
And for every exception to the rule, for every Thomas Mann or Alexander Solzhenitzyn, there is a Karl Adolph Gjellerup, a Grazia Deledda, or a Frans Eemil Sillanpaa, all of them once honored with the prestigious prize, all of them likely still read in their native tongues, but none of them still on the English-speaking bestseller lists - or even the remainder piles.
Sigrid Undset's literary fate falls somewhere between that of the Manns on one side and the Gjellerups on the other.The Norwegian author, who wrote during the first half of the 20th century, is today best known for her multi-volume medieval novels, Kristin Lavransdatter and The Master of Hestviken.
But before she wrote those masterpieces - the research for which partially influenced her conversion to the Catholic faith - and before she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928, Undset was known for her realistic novels of modern life.These novels have been favorably compared with those of her contemporary, Theodore Dreiser.
The Unknown Sigrid Undset introduces a new generation of readers to some of these early works.
The bulk of this volume consists of Undset's 1912 novel Jenny, which has been out of print in English since the 1930s.This new translation by Tiina Nunnally - who also translated the recent thriller Smilla's Sense of Snow - restores passages that had been cut in the earlier English version for either unbridled lyricism or supposed salaciousness.
Jenny tells the story of a young Norwegian artist living in bohemian Rome in the early decades of the 20th century.The story seems to be semi-autobiographical.Undset knew the struggles of a working class, female artist: She worked as a secretary to support her widowed mother and younger sister for 10 years before she could afford to move to Italy as a full-time writer.
Jenny, the protagonist of the novel, can't reconcile her artistic need to create with her maternal need to nurture.Undset sees this split as the eternal dilemma of the female artist in a male-dominated world.And although a feminist, Undset ultimately comes down on the side of motherhood.For Undset, biology was destiny, and that assertion was politically incorrect even in 1912.
The book and its author were blasted by ideologues on both ends of the spectrum.Reviewers denounced Jenny for its sexual frankness and overall "sordidness."Feminists decried it as heresy, a betrayal by one of their own.The controversy was not unlike that being played out in literary and feminist circles today.
The other fictional works in The Unknown Sigrid Undset are equally contemporary in their themes.
The short story "Thjodolf" - as fresh and disturbing as today's headlines - is the story of a woman who loves a foster child.The child's birth mother comes back into the picture demanding her maternal rights, and the inevitable tragedy results.
"Simonsen" is a quieter tale of poverty and desperation.The title character is a loser in the eyes of the world - he can't afford to both live with and support the family of his old age.At Christmas time, his adult children agree to help him and his new family, but only if he agrees to leave the mistress and the five-year-old daughter he loves.
In addition to the fiction, this volume includes a collection of the author's letters that have never before been translated into English.The letters - written by Undset to Andrea (Dea) Hedburg Forsberg, her pen pal of more than forty years - cover the period from 1900 to 1913, when Undset was developing as a writer.As such they present a portrait of the artist as a young woman.
Considering the themes and obsessions of Undset's fiction, it is significant that the letters - and the book - end with her announcement of the birth of her first child.The roles of creative artist and nurturing mother were finally reconciled in Undset's life.
The Unknown Sigrid Undset offers today's readers the works of a young writer who portrays the world as it really is, yet is searching for the ultimate truths behind that reality.

5-0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking stories, masterpieces of literary fiction
I have recently bought "The Unknown Sigrid Undset: Jenny and Other Works" published by Steerforth Press. This volume is the most carefully edited omnibus I have ever seen. It's clear that book lovers have done their work here, people who put love for books above everything else, including strictly commercial motivations. "Jenny" was out of print for what - 70 years? Perhaps more. The old translation from the 1920s apparently utilized the archaic English language, and thus Undset herself had decided to take it out of the circulation. You can also find an online interview with the translator, Tiina Nunnally, who translated it anew, and learn how difficult it is to bring old Scandinavian novels back to life, so that they are accessible to the XXI century reader, and yet do not lose anything of its original charm and style. It is a noble deed, really, in this day and age - to reprint the pearls of literature and in such careful way at that.

"Jenny" is a story of a young Norwegian lady, a painter and a spinster, who remained in that state despite the fact that she was both physically attractive, and very well liked, a young persona whose companionship was sought by her peers. A small group of artistically gifted young Scandinavian people spends their summers in Rome before World War I, to remain there for a long time, only occasionally coming back to the native soil. Her observations, the observations of a young traveling woman, are full of wisdom, full of realism so much unlike the sentimental, eerie otherworldliness and nonchalance of the contemporary characters, for you have to remember that "Jenny" was written in 1911, when the effects of the decadent new wave in literature and culture were still strong.

At moments I am reminded of the atmosphere in Maugham's "Of Human Bondage", the parts where Philip enters the bohemian world of the painters during his venture as an art student, but it's only a distant recollection, because Undset's novel is infinitely gentler, and the fact is, more fresh than Maugham's - and I find it much more to my personal liking than Maugham anyway. Undset is mercifully brief in her descriptions, which are devoid of ornaments, and I find that I get the picture in a much clearer way, I feel as if I were there, with them, assisting the characters from the position of a crow, sitting on a cold marble stone lion, observing everything in my omni cognitive way of a crow. Maybe it's just because I grew up in Europe, in those mossy old places, where earth gives life to small plants in-between the cracks of old carved stones and buildings, where the early old city morning is incomparable with anything you've seen or felt.

"Jenny" is a grand love story, a tragic story of a young woman who did not seek carnal pleasures, the easy-come-easy-go type of relationship that people her age seemed to enjoy. Attractive and intelligent, she was lonely, very lonely, and when she finally subsided to the impulse, the whole life has changed. With her lover, she entered the morbid world of suppressed unhealthy emotions, which he carried from home like a burden of a graveyard stone on a chest, immovable and paralyzing. The insecure man drowned Jenny in his toxic love, for love is always toxic if the object is not the other person, but he who loves, or rather claims to love. Once the young Norwegians briefly return home, we realize why he behaved as he did, and so the tragic story begins, and for the next two hundred pages a reader will be spellbound by the powerful voice of Sigrid Undset.

"And the worst thing would be to share life with another person but deep inside feel just as lonely as before. Oh, no, no. To belong to a man, with all the subsequent types of intimacy, both physical and spiritual... and then one day to see that she had never known him, and he had never known her, and neither of them had ever understood a word the other person said...(...) So she had to try painting again. Presumably it would be an utter disaster, since she was walking around sick with love. She laughed. That's what was wrong with her. The object of her affection hadn't yet appeared, but the love was there."

This novel is a masterpiece of literature, and it's hard to believe that Undset was very young when she conceived this novel. Only from her letters to her longtime German pen-pal, we learn that she started writing as a very young girl, and that she devoted all her young life to writing, slaving away in an obscure office to be able to support her writing of "Kristin Lavransdatter", a historical trilogy for which much later, in 1928, Undset was awarded a Nobel Prize for literature. Don't be put off just because Undset is Norwegian, and now forgotten. Her writing is wonderful, and I wish people discovered this writer anew, because she deserves recognition, but even more she deserves modern readership. Try it - you won't be disappointed.

Besides "Jenny", the book contains also a novella, "Thjodolf", and a short story, "Simonsen". Both are rather depressing, to tell the truth. The latter is a story of unmet expectations and brutality of life in the turn-of-the-century urban Norway, while the former is a heartbreaking story of a woman and the adopted child. Written when Undset was just sixteen, "Thjodolf" is one of the best novellas I have ever read, and definitely powerful enough to shatter you to pieces. Sigrid Undset was a writer of unmatched class, and it's a pity that her works are not popular nowadays. Let us only hope that the current edition will alter that state.

4-0 out of 5 stars Undset = Immediacy
After reading the Tiina Nunnally translations of Undset's Gunnar's Daughter, and Kristin Lavransdatter (all 3 vol.), I was more than hooked on Undset, I was obsessed.I ordered Jenny from the library and loved the immediacy and complete contemporariness of the book.I know contemporariness is not a word but heck, I can't think of the correct term.Sigrid Undset is a solid writer-- her characters are complex, intelligent, dynamic and they face interesting ethical and moral quetions.I give Gunnar's Daughter and Krisin Lavransdatter (which is an amazing trilogy) 5 stars.Jenny did not have the hefty power of these two (read the introductions!) but it is a very enjoyable story.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating early work by a Nobel Prize winner
This volume showcases some great early works by Sigrid Undset that give a foretaste of the Nobel Prize-winning books she would write 10-20 years later.The novel "Jenny," from 1911, tells the fate of a young woman painter during her years in Rome and later back home in Oslo.Undset's descriptions are as vivid as a painting themselves, and the characters of Jenny and her artist friends in Rome will remind you of people you know today.And isn't that one thing that makes great art universal?Undset's letters to her Swedish penpal reveal the desire of a young writer to escape her humdrum office-worker existence -- Undset worked for a German electrical company for 10 years! -- and have the time to do nothing but write; these letters are astoundingly mature for a 21-year-old.If you want to see where the celebrated author of "Kristin Lavransdatter" started out (and read it in the limpid prose of Tiina Nunnally's exquisitely rendered translation), this is the book for you! ... Read more

11. The Master of Hestviken: The Axe, the Snake Pit, in the Wilderness, the Son Avenger
by Sigrid Undset
Hardcover: Pages (1962)

Asin: B000MPQOTO
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12. Jenny (Dodo Press)
by Sigrid Undset
Paperback: 320 Pages (2008-10-16)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$19.02
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1409923819
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Sigrid Undset (1882-1949) was a Norwegian novelist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928. She fled Norway for the United States in 1940 because of her opposition to Nazi Germany and the German occupation, but returned after World War II ended in 1945. Her best-known work is Kristin Lavransdatter, a modernist trilogy about life in Scandinavia in the Middle Ages. She took a one-year secretarial course and got a job as secretary with an engineering company. Sigrid was no more than 16 years old when she made her first hesitant attempt at writing a novel set in the Nordic Middle Ages. At the age of 25, Sigrid Undset made her literary debut with a short, realistic novel set against a contemporary background. During the years up to 1919, Undset published a number of novels set in contemporary Kristiania. This realistic period culminated in the novels Jenny in 1911 and Vaaren in 1914. Amongst her other works are Korset (1922) and The Bridal Wreath (1923). ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars Surprised Oprah Hasn't Picked This One
Because JENNY is horribly dark and depressing. The setting is Rome, around 1905-1910, and Jenny Winge is a beautiful, blonde, twenty-something painter. The reserved Jenny hangs out with a lively, bohemian crowd of fellow artists, including her special friend and roommate, Fransiska (Cesca) Jahrmann. Enter Helge Gram, a somewhat dorky fellow Norwegian, who latches onto Jenny. Her friends protest, but eventually come to accept him because of Jenny's love-me-love-my-dog attitude.

Jenny and Cesca have many discussions about their choices in life, namely to be 1) a spinster righteously dedicated to her artistic work 2) a fallen woman, because nice girls don't, or 3) a shrewish housewife who has no life of her own and slaves for her husband.

Jenny eventually succumbs to Helge's smothering attention, becoming engaged to him, but never following through with a sexual relationship. They return home to Norway, where Jenny meets his horribly dysfunctional parents, and the strain of the insanity and lies ends their relationship.

Then, worried that she is frigid and perhaps looking for a father figure, Jenny becomes involved in a sexual relationship with Helge's father, Gert Gram.(!) Jenny gets pregnant and moves to a rooming house in Germany to have the baby in secret.

The baby dies after six weeks, and Jenny enters a spiral of depression. Even moving back to Rome does not help and she begins drinking excessively, After a run-in with her former fiancée, Helge, that may or may not have been rape, Jenny slits her wrist and dies.

While this book contains excellent (though bleak) writing, and many insights into the souls of the characters, it was obviously written when Undset was very young. It may simply be the mindset and attitude of the time, but I believe that the author knew nothing about sex, sexual relationships, pregnancy or childbirth. The scenes are too vague and ridiculous.

Undset did know Rome, and the best thing about this book was the lovely descriptions of the Eternal City as it was a century ago.

3-0 out of 5 stars Early Undset novel
Later, Sigrid Undset would become a peer of Dostoevsky -- see Mitzi Brunsdale's comments on Undset's magnificent quartet, The Master of Hestviken, in her 1988 study.But Undset's early novel Jenny shows the Norwegian Nobel Prize winner as the peer of Turgenev. Jenny is worthy of comparison with something like Turgenev's "First Love" as a tale of the loss of youth and of eros (present or absent), but from the point of view of a woman who is not in love, rather than the point of view of the man who is in love.There is a suggestion, too, of Turgenev's characteristic interest in cultured, somewhat amoral, and vaguely political artist-poet types who have left their northern homelands (for Turgenev, Russia; for Undset, Norway) for southern Europe.

Emphatically Jenny is not to be thought of as a Turgenev imitation, though.For one thing, Undset's novel deals -- in some of its best pages -- with its heroine's maternal yearnings and grief, something one wouldn't look for in Turgenev.The Russian had a somewhat effeminate fondness for poetic melancholy (amusing satirized by Dostoevsky in Demons); in Jenny, "might have been" hurts people more.

There are flat patches of descriptive writing -- here, she is no rival of the Turgenev who wrote the lovely outdoors anecdote "Bezhin Meadow"-- and one must admit that one could become impatient with these rootless would-be artists, as one was meant to, I suppose.In later works, Undset achieved a greater synthesis of romanticism and stern, classical truthfulness. ... Read more

13. Kristin Lavransdatter: A Trilogy: The Bridal Wreath; The Mistress of Husaby; The Cross
by Sigrid Undset
 Hardcover: 1065 Pages (1940-01-01)

Asin: B00124SIFC
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Editorial Review

Product Description
5th print/translation ... Read more

14. In the Wilderness: The Master of Hestviken, Vol. 3
by Sigrid Undset
Paperback: 208 Pages (1995-06-24)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$9.06
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Asin: 0679755535
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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In the third volume of her medieval epic, Sigrid Undset plunges readers into a world that is at once profoundly alien yet inhabited by men and women as recognizable as our own kin. Heartbroken by the death of his wife and estranged from a son who may not be his, Olav leaves Hestviken on a journey of adventure, temptation, and remorse that leads him to a bloody reckoning at the gates of Oslo. Vividly, poignantly, and with the fierce gradeur of a Norse folktake, In the Wilderness portrays the terrible conflicts of a man who is both sinner and penitent in an age that lies on the cusp of savagery and faith. Author: Sigrid UndsetPages: 208, PaperbackPublisher: Random HouseISBN: 0-679-75553-5 ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Part 3, the saga continues
This is the most action-packed installment of the "Master of Hestvicken" series. After Ingunn's death Olav leaves for adventures away from the family manor. In the first part of the story he goes on a sea adventure and visits the city of London where he has a religious experience in a church and an encounter with a mysterious woman. Later on in the book, after his return to Norway Olav leads men in defense against the invasion from Sweden.

As usual with all the books of Sigrid Undset, this is a beautifully told saga rich with historical detail.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my All Time Favourites
Following "The Axe" and "The Snake Pit", this is the third volume of Sigrid Undset'sgreat novel "The Master of Hestviken". Since the story is so intricate and full of detail, I would strongly advise not to read this book by its own since the reader might become confused and would not truly appreciate this magnificent tale. Although, unfortunately, the story is not available in one volume, all four books are certainly worth the money they cost. Moreover, each volume has a beautiful cover depicting scenes from the novel.

The story takes place in medieval Norway, a land torn by unremitting warfare and not yet fully converted to Christianity. The first two books tell the story of Olav Audunsson, who, after killing a man at a very young age, becomes an outlaw. As a consequence, he has to endure a long and bitter separation from Ingunn Steinfinnsdatter, his childhood sweetheart, before they are finally able to marry. However, their new life is tainted by Olav's past and by the fact that Ingunn has brought shame upon herself.

In this volume, Olav has once again become a man of wealth and stature. He is haunted, however, by his past deeds and he cannot find true happiness. Having lost his wife and being estranged from his son, Olaf leaves Hestviken and embarks on a journey of adventure and remorse which will finally lead him to a bloody reckoning.

The author's prose is so incredibly beautiful and the story is so rich in historical detail that it reminds one of the great Norwegian Sagas. It takes the reader back to a time when violence and bloody vendettas racked a land not yet fully touched by Christianity.The author depicts strong characters driven by passion and a desire for revenge who seldom find true peace and happiness. Written between 1925 and 1927 by a woman, this novel was truly ahead of its time. ... Read more

15. The Faithful Wife
by Sigrid Undset
 Hardcover: Pages (1944)

Asin: B000ZFZEGU
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16. Sigrid Undset: Kristentro og kirkesyn (Norwegian Edition)
by Finn Thorn
 Unknown Binding: 232 Pages (1975)

Isbn: 8203063519
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17. Sigrid Undset: Chronicler of Norway (Berg Women's Series)
by Mitzi Brunsdale
 Hardcover: 160 Pages (1989-02)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$69.76
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0854960279
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18. Kristin Lavransdatter: The bridal wreath, The mistress of Husaby, The cross
by Sigrid Undset
Hardcover: 945 Pages (1930)

Asin: B000864SYU
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19. Jenny, a Novel
by Sigrid Undset
 Hardcover: Pages (1921)

Asin: B002DIQCEK
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20. Sigrid Undset: On Saints and Sinners (Proceedings of the Wethersfield Institute)
 Paperback: 287 Pages (1994-03)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$85.83
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Asin: 0898704839
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