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The Maid Silja: The History of the Last Offshoot of an Old Family Tree [Hardcover]

Frans E. Sillanpaa , Alexander Matson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Cherokee Publishing Company (GA) (Nov 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877971749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877971740
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a few brief summers ... 19 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The story is simple and straightforward, and the author tells us on the opening page how it ends, but it's the journey there that counts for everything. The whole life of the main character, to whom in an external sense rather little happens, is unfolded in order. Big themes raise their heads and cross the path of the narrative - poverty and infant mortality, civil war and the brutal alternation of reprisals, the crossed purposes of love ... Somehow, the main character retains integrity, courage, and a sort of good cheer, even in the face of premature death. The intensity of life, although brief, is like the few summers that are imprinted on the heroine's mind.
There is a kind of similarity to, say, Independant People by Halldor Laxness, the better known Icelandic novelist, and those who like Laxness may feel that since so little of his corpus is available in translation that they can turn to Sillanpaa. That's a good enough reason for starting to read The Maid Silja, but Sillanpaa is definitely his own man, and this novel is a truly great and individual work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "The highest harvest-festival of her life" 19 Dec 2013
By sally tarbox TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"The summer-morning death of Silja, that lonely figure left to her own resources, may thus be seen as the end of a long chain of events that we can regard as beginning thirty years earlier, when Silja's father, Kustaa, inherited the Salmelus farm."
So begins this novel, which then takes us back through the events of young Silja's sad life: her father's marriage to a woman of unfortunate family, plus his own weak character cause the loss of the family farm. Further events find the girl working as a maidservant on a succession of farms, until while working for a kindly professor, she falls in love. The beautifully written account of Silja's emotions that midsummer is perhaps the loveliest part of this novel.
Towards the end, as war breaks out between the Red and White factions, I felt my interest beginning to wane slightly, but nonetheless a great novel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the equal of "People in the Summer Night" 5 Oct 2004
By Randy Keehn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm just not sure what to make of this book. After reading "People in the Summer Night" a number of years ago, I have been looking long and hard for another book by Frans Sillanpaa. I was very elated to be able to find this one on Amazon.com and looked forward to reading it. However, it was not the stirring novel that the other one was.

Part of the problem with "The Maid Silja" is that it is hard to get a good grasp on the purpose of the novel. The author essentitally says he is telling us about the last member of a long family tree. We get a brief glimpse of the first of three generations, a longer look at the second, and about half of the book is dedicated to the third generation; Silja. There are many passages in the book that flow along very well but then seem to look for a reason to switch gears. There is a fascinating look at the son of a fairly well-to-do farmer who marries below his station. The way his in-laws gradually drag him under is well told and may be especially interesting to those who "can relate". The transition of Silja from a young girl to a working girl is also touchingly rendered. The beauty of a father's love; often implied but seldom expressed, is well written. Somehow, as I moved along in the book, I kept wondering why things had to change. The departure of Silja from the professor's home was something I was never able to fully understand. Yet the scene of her return was probably worth the whole book. It was a "You can't go home again" scenario with the added proviso; "Not even for a day". After getting an interesting glimpse of the politics of Finland in what I presumed to be the 1920's, the end draws near. What puzzled me at the end was the message that the author left us with in a mere paragraph. It was an excellent message but I didn't think that the book had served as a laboratory that proved the theory. In others words, the book didn't seem to illustrate what the author's point was at the end.

Some years ago I saw a brief trivia questionaire about the Nobel Prize for Literature. The question I remembered was, "Was the Nobel Prize for Literature ever awarded for purely political reasons?". The answer was "Yes" and that it happened in 1939 when the Academy was so incensed over the Soviet Union's invasion of little old Finland that it awarded the prize to a run of the mill Finnish writer named Frans Sillanpaa. I was incensed when I read that because, after having read "People in the Summer Night", I was convinced that Sillanpaa possessed a genius for writing. After reading "The Maid Silja", I'm rethinking that opinion.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Maid Silja 15 Feb 2002
By Jan Lemoine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A novel by Finnish writer Frans Sillanpaa, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1939, The Maid Silja portrays the simple story of a young girl and her growth to womanhood. Sillanpaa captures the imagery of Finland's natural setting and the overwhelming romantic emotions of an innocent young woman during a turbulent period in Finland's history. It is reminiscent of another Scandanavian book, Kristin Lavransdatter,which similarly has central to its story the deep-seated feelings daughters have for their fathers, and the tumultuous changes this relationship undergoes as they mature.
4.0 out of 5 stars "The highest harvest festival of her life" 19 Dec 2013
By sally tarbox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"The summer-morning death of Silja, that lonely figure left to her own resources, may thus be seen as the end of a long chain of events that we can regard as beginning thirty years earlier, when Silja's father, Kustaa, inherited the Salmelus farm."
So begins this novel, which then takes us back through the events of young Silja's sad life: her father's marriage to a woman of unfortunate family, plus his own weak character cause the loss of the family farm. Further events find the girl working as a maidservant on a succession of farms, until while working for a kindly professor, she falls in love. The beautifully written account of Silja's emotions that midsummer is perhaps the loveliest part of this novel.
Towards the end, as war breaks out between the Red and White factions, I felt my interest beginning to wane slightly, but nonetheless a great novel.
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