This one is on my reading list. Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset tells the story of her heroine in 14th century Norway with great love and attention to detail. Book-of-the-Month Club famously said, "We consider it the best book our judges have ever selected and it has been better received by our subscribers than any other book." My friend (who's been urging me to read this for ages) tells me she'd give it ten stars if she could.
The Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy by Sigrid Undset, who won of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 (“principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages”) is now available unabridged at Audible for the first time!
As a young girl in 14th-century Norway, Kristin is deeply devoted to her father, Lavrans, 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.
For the first time, all three Kristin Lavransdatter novels, The Wreath, The Wife, and The Cross, are available in an accessible, modern, single-volume performance. Audible recorded the prize-winning translation by Tiina Nunnally, performed by Erin Bennett. Bennett does more than demystify the Norwegian names; more importantly she becomes Kristin’s timeless voice, which the listener follows from cradle to grave. Despite – or perhaps because of – the rich detail about medieval Scandinavian morality and customs, there’s no piece of Kristin’s fictional life in the 14th century – her struggle to be her best self at every age – that doesn’t resonate with contemporary women’s struggles to “have it all”.
If you are a nerdy stickler for historical accuracy, or if you are looking for a totally absorbing performance dominated by a single character’s point of view, or if you enjoy the work of empyrean women authors – especially Hilary Mantel, Charlotte Brontë, and Elena Ferrante – here’s your next great listen!