The Bridal Wreath by Sigrid Undset, 272 pages plus notes
Book 1 of Kristin Lavransdatter
translated by Charles Archer and JS Scott
Women Unbound Challenge
I do enjoy historical fiction. This was my first venture into 14th century Norway, but I'm not sure I've been avoiding this genre; there isn't a lot that I'm aware of. Luckily this is quality stuff, as Undset won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. I think there are several translations, and it would be interesting to read another version, but I was limited by my library copy.
We first meet Kristin when she is 8 and the apple of her father's eye. She lives a relatively privileged life for Middle Ages. The church has a big influence on the lives. The laws of inheritance rule their lives in a sense, as marriages are made based on how the family estates will prosper. Kristin is promised to a local boy by her father over the poor boy who obviously loves Kristin but deemed not suitable. Kristin is sent to live in a convent in the town for a year before the betrothal.
But it's a good historical fiction, and besides seeing the lives of Norwegian there was a love story. Kristin meets an impetuous young man, Erlend Nikulasson, to whom she was not promised to, and like all head-strong teenagers, falls madly in love with against her parents hopes and wishes. She will need to defy her parents and the rules of the land/church if she wants to be with Erlend.
Lots of great characters - Brother Edvin, Lady Aashild, and her father Lavrans round out the story. This is the first in the trilogy and I am looking forward to the next book to see how Kristin makes out with her decisions.
I decided to read this book after reading about a group read-a-long, hosted by Claire and Richard. There is a round up of other reviews for this first book here at Claire's. I'm not reading the same translation, but I like the way the story was translated in mine, even if it feels a bit clunky at times. It feels more 14th century Norwegian language to me.