Review 1547: The Mistress of Husaby

In this second volume of Kristin Lavransdatter, Kristin has finally won through on her determination to marry Erlend Nikulauss√∂n. The novel starts with them journeying to Erlend’s estate of Husaby to take up their residence. Kristin finds the estate poorly managed and the serving people slovenly and lazy, so she goes about setting all to rights.

To gain Erlend, though, Kristin has committed many sins, and much of the first part of the novel deals with her relationship to God. Although the preoccupations in this section certainly reflect the times, I found them to be heavy going. Later, though, the novel caught more of my imagination as it dealt with Erlend and Kristin’s marriage, her relationship to her father, and the political situation under first a regent, and then King Magnus.

This trilogy approaches its story by employing an old-time style of writing that does not seem forced and works for its subject. It is clear that Undset was an expert on 14th century Norway. Although at times I found it a little hard to follow, especially in the implications of the dialogue, the novel is very interesting.

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