13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2001
It's a shame that no complete edition of Kristin Lavransdatter is now in print in the English language. This is the third volume of the trilogy (the first two are THE GARLAND, and THE MISTRESS OF HUSABY). Taken as a whole, the trilogy presents one of the most powerful, complete and realistic portraits of a human being's life that I have ever read.
The trilogy is set in 14th century Norway, and tells of the life of Kristin, a nobleman's daughter who marries well but against her father's wishes, has 7 children, and is ultimately led to poverty, the church and death. But around the drama of her romance with her husband, Erlend, and her relationship with her father Lavrans, and her children, a whole tapestry of medieval life is woven, creating an almost unbearably realistic portrait of what life must have been like at that time.
The archaic prose style takes a while to get used to, but when you do, it is intensely beautiful, and saturated with poetry and little details about land and people which makes this worthy of classic status, and is all too fine justification for the fact that Undset eventually won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
This is a great book - and the concluding part is as essential as all the others. But get hold of the old Picador edition (which was a complete version) if you can!