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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'The Ice Palace' by Tarjei Vesaas
The Ice Palace is the tale of friendship between two eleven year old girls. The girls, Siss and Unn, live in a rural community in Norway. The friendship between the two girls is a classic example of 'opposites attract'. Siss is outgoing, extroverted and a natural leader. Unn, who after the death of her mother moved to the village to stay with her aunt, is shy, retiring...
Published on 21 Sept. 2008 by Joseph Porter

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intense, almost claustrophobic
This is the story of two school girls who strike up a brief but very intense friendship, and what happens when one of the two goes missing. It does an incredible job of transporting you inside the troubled mind of someone under pressure.

It was first published in 1963 and is set amid the ice and snow of a small rural Norwegian community. The author, Vesaas, was...
Published 13 months ago by Sean Fleming


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'The Ice Palace' by Tarjei Vesaas, 21 Sept. 2008
The Ice Palace is the tale of friendship between two eleven year old girls. The girls, Siss and Unn, live in a rural community in Norway. The friendship between the two girls is a classic example of 'opposites attract'. Siss is outgoing, extroverted and a natural leader. Unn, who after the death of her mother moved to the village to stay with her aunt, is shy, retiring and very much an outsider.

Siss visits Unn and the latter explains that she is keeping a dreadful secret. A secret that will prevent her from going to heaven. The next day Unn, due to having made her confession, feels she would be embarrassed to meet Siss at school. Unn decides to play truant to visit the ice palace. An ice palace is a natural structure formed when a waterfall freezes. Unn enters the ice palace and becomes lost.

When it is dicovered Unn is missing, a search party is organised to look for her. As time passes and no trace of Unn is found, the people of the village begin to wonder if Siss knows more about Unn's disappearance that she is letting on. Siss is devastated at the loss of her friend and vows never to forget her. Siss becomes how Unn was: lonely, distant and outside the society of her peers. Like Unn became disorientated and lost in the ice palace; Siss becomes emotionally disorientated and lost. Siss has to come to terms with and escape from her angst before she can progress to adolescence and adulthood.

The Ice Palace is a powerful and moving novel. Doris Lessing said of it "How simple this novel is. How subtle. How strong. How unlike any other. It is unique. It is unforgettable. It is extraordinary".
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best thing ever to come out of Norway, 14 April 2001
By A Customer
The Ice Palace is the most beautiful novel i have ever read. It pushed me to extremes of emotions never thought possible. It is a symbolic and psychological novel about two young and innocent girls who are mutually drawn towards each other. It is a story of loneliness and the need for human contact, which is ultimately severed by the attraction of the Ice Palace and the cruelty of the Norwegian winter. Vesaas won "Nordisk Råds litteraturpris" (Nordic literature award) for "The Ice Palace".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story from the Great North, 2 May 2014
By 
Ann Fairweather (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Ice Palace (Peter Owen Modern Classics) (Paperback)
If you wish for a very Nordic read, this is it. Forests, snow landscape, ice, long winter nights and very quiet people, it really conveys a marvellous feel of the Great North. It is the story, poetic and strange, of the intense but short-lived friendship between two young girls. There is shyness, understanding, secrets, longings, fear, and the book describes beautifully a very mysterious relationship. Then one of the girls disappears...This is a book to experience rather than talk about. It leaves a palpable sense of the cold, white immensity and profound isolation of deep Norway. Written with a beautiful, lyrical, sparse prose, it is a vivid, unforgettable story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intense, almost claustrophobic, 4 Mar. 2014
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This is the story of two school girls who strike up a brief but very intense friendship, and what happens when one of the two goes missing. It does an incredible job of transporting you inside the troubled mind of someone under pressure.

It was first published in 1963 and is set amid the ice and snow of a small rural Norwegian community. The author, Vesaas, was also a poet and it shows. Even through translation into English, The Ice Palace is a very carefully crafted piece of literary work.

Sadly, I found that got in the way at times; I don’t always want to marvel at an artist’s brushstrokes, sometimes I just want to stare at the painting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Caves of ice, 28 Nov. 2014
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
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Although this novel was first published in the 1960s, I have only recently come across it and realised that Tarjei Vesaas who died in 1970, is regarded as one of Norway’s finest writers.

Vesaas gets inside the heads of the two eleven-year-old girls who are his two main characters. Sis is intrigued by the arrival of “new girl” Unn who plays the loner, perhaps because of her mother’s recent death which has brought her to live with an aunt in a remote rural community. In her excitement over the prospect of an intense pre-teen age friendship with Sis, Unn plays truant from school and sets off across a large frozen lake to investigate the “ice palace”, which has formed at a distant waterfall. In this excellent translation by Elizabeth Rokkan, her fateful journey is one of the most striking pieces of description I have ever read. “Bent bracken stood in the ice like delicate drawings”.

Ensuing events are fairly few and simple in this short novel, but it becomes a gripping page turner by reason of the sustained tension, the portrayal of nature by turns menacing and of exquisite beauty, and the subtilty of the characters’ communication. This is a very Scandinavian novel, in which we really feel the long darkness of the winter night, threatening when one is alone; the strength of the steel-ice on the lake despite its tendency to blast “long fissures, narrow as a knife-blade, from the surface down into the depths” with a thunderous noise like gunshot; the magical Kubla Khan-like caves of the ice palace; the sequence of seasonal change from early winter ice through all-concealing snow to the eventual thaw. There is also the mysterious appeal of Unn who implies a secret she will not reveal.

If this remarkable and memorable book has a flaw, it is the structure towards the end in which a possible dramatic climax is revealed and then followed by something of an anti-climax. You could of course argue that Vessas is not interested in creating drama, but rather in portraying the events of ordinary life, in this case the natural development of a girl on the verge of growing up, learning from her experiences, and in rendering them extraordinary by the poetic quality of his prose.

I shall make a point of looking out for other works by this author.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The ice was here, the ice was there..., 25 Mar. 2008
should probably read more fiction in translation - as it is my repetoire is shamefully low. There is a whole world out there (obviously) and I'm probably missing some real treats. Especially, it seems, in the world of Scandanavian writing - there seems to be something beguiling in that icy landscape that brings a cool charm to its literature, or least, to the Scandanavian literature that I have read.

It's certainly the case with The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas, which tells the story of two children, Siss and Unn, and their brief but intense friendship forged at school in Norway. Unn has something she wants to tell Siss when the latter visits her at the house she lives in with her aunt, but Siss - realising something monumental is likely to be said - takes fright and runs home. The next day, Unn wants to avoid school and Siss, so takes a solitary trip to The Ice Palace, where she is later meant to be going on a school trip. Unn never returns. The bulk of the novel follows Siss as she tried to assimilate the knowledge that Unn is dead, and struggles to come to terms with it.

The language is this book's real strength, with simply stunning evocations of the snow-covered landscape, and of the cold that seems to exist between the characters themselves, and between the characters and the memory of Unn:

'We're upset about this,' said her father.
'Yes. We were happy today. We thought you'd got over it at last,' said her mother. 'We thought things were going to be just as they used to be.'
Got over it, they said.
They cut right through and drew out the truth about what she was expected to do: get over it. It was easy to say, but how could that happen as long as the vision was dancing before her eyes? She realized she had lied to little purpose; they could not be taken in. But at any rate she could keep her mouth shut. She would willingly have pleased them in some way at that moment, but could not lie to do so - and how else could she do so?

And the ice itself! The ice is inescapable in The Ice Palace and just as much of a character as any human in those pages. Literally for some, of course. The landscape is just layers and layers of snow and ice. The world for the villagers is almost exclusively black and white, with green and blue hues and the sun (occasionally) shines through the ice. Literally and figuratively. The say that this novel is bleak would be an understatement, though not in a gritty, depressing way. It is, though, claustrophobic in all that ice and repressed emotion, and a couple of times I just had to put the book down for a bit of a breather, and go and feel the radiators to check they were still on.

I agree with the other reviews when they say that this book is extraordinary. It is extrordinary, and even now, weeks after I finished it, I still find my mind wandering back to it, shivering slightly. But did I enjoy it? A rollicking read it isn't, but the writing itself is something quite special.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great work., 18 Sept. 2014
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This is one of those rare works that I don't think will ever slip away too far into my recesses of my mind - I think it will always be there, just under surface of the ice, like a secret almost revealed. It ones of those books like "the Old Man and The Sea" that only truly great authors can write - short books written seemingly so simply that teach you something which, although you know you've learnt it, you cannot quite put whatever it is into words.
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5.0 out of 5 stars poetic stuff, 30 July 2010
By 
Mr. Nigel Ratcliffe "ratcliffecreative" (West Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Ice Palace (Peter Owen Modern Classics) (Paperback)
well, this is one one of those rare occurrences where i saw the film before i read the book. both are special and beautiful in their own way, but the book is amazing in its insights and poetic language. the translator has used sensitivity and command of the English language to produce a work of sheer delight.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great story of childhoods fears, grief and anguish. enjoyed the read., 19 April 2014
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Interesting and powerful story of childhood, fear and friendship. I loved the passing of seasons in the The Ice palace.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 25 Feb. 2014
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Beautifully written . At times I thought I was reading poetry. So pleased to have had it recommended to me.
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The Ice Palace (Peter Owen Modern Classics)
The Ice Palace (Peter Owen Modern Classics) by Tarjei Vesaas (Paperback - 5 Aug. 2009)
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