When I saw The Bridal Wreath in a list of books published in 1920, I thought the 1920 Club would be a perfect opportunity to reread it and judge whether I wanted to revisit the trilogy. It had been many years since I read it, and I could remember little about it.
The Bridal Wreath is the first book of Sigrid Undset’s renowned trilogy, Kristin Lavransdatter. It is the story of the life of a fourteenth century Norwegian girl.
Kristen is the daughter of a depressed mother, Ragnfrid, and Lavrans, an upright, kindly farmer of good estate. Kristin grows up her father’s favorite, and as a young girl, she is disposed to try to always do what is right.
When she is fifteen, her family betrothes her to Simon Darre, a young man who is good natured and kind, but during her engagement year, she meets Erlend Nikulaussön, an older man of poor reputation although of better family than Kristin’s. He and Kristin decide to marry despite Simon and Eline, the woman who deserted her husband for Erlend and bore him two children. When Lavrans learns of this, although he doesn’t know all, he is unwilling to grant permission for their marriage, afraid he will be throwing his daughter’s happiness away for an unworthy husband.
The novel is rich in detail, and Kristin’s life seems fully realized. Moreover, the characters are complexly human. I enjoyed this novel even more the second time around.