Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Marilla and Matthew take her in, though they wanted a boy and by accident get a girl. They have the a rural stoicism that often conflicts with Anne's dreaminess, but comedy is the result.
Anne really did grow on me and I'd read more. It was a good choice after reading about poor Tess in September and October.
You're Love in the Time of Cholera!
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Like Odysseus in a work of Homer, you demonstrate undying loyalty by sleeping with as many people as you possibly can. But in your heart you never give consent! This creates a strange quandary of what love really means to you. On the one hand, you've loved the same person your whole life, but on the other, your actions
barely speak to this fact. Whatever you do, stick to bottled water. The other stuff could get you killed.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Jean Fritz' Homesick describes her childhood in China during the 20's around the time of the first revolution. It's funny, perceptive and touching. She's a spirited girl of 9 or 10 years old who likes some aspects of life in China, but not all. I loved how honest and real her writing was. This book is geared to young readers, but appeals to all because she doesn't sugarcoat things or spare her readers from the hardship life can throw at us. She weaves the history in so that it doesn't come across as pendantic, rather it's just natural.
I wanted to read more. That's the sign of a good book.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
It's the story of a young woman from a poor family who has hardship after hardship. No one cuts her a break. Yet she keeps on going. She doesn't have any lofty aspirations, unlike her pathetic father who's already a drinker, but becomes more useless once he hears that he's descended, in more ways than one, from an aristocratic family.
I'd seen the movie in the 80's and vaguely remembered some scenes and the tone of the story. I also remember Monty Python spearing Hardy quite often. Yet this is a well written book about a compelling character. I'm so glad I read it.
Monday, September 20, 2010
I feel rather privileged to get an advanced copy of Deborah Fallows' Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons In Life, Love, And Languagevia my friend Sally's relative who works at NPR. (Talk about a dream job.) Fallows describes her various efforts to learn Mandarin interspersed with her experiences in China over the years. She includes both linguistic loves and characteristic Chinese moments. It's a fun and quick read for a Sinophile. There weren't any lessons in Love as in romantic love. That's a tease in the subtitle.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Of course, not all will be swayed, but Willard writes well and anyone who cares about such matters should give this book a read. It will challenge believer and non-believer alike, though in different ways. It's very much a modern book for our time, but Willard doesn't simply modify the gospels or logic to present a Christianity every one will like. He explains Christianity in modern terms that will challenge people today.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Ben takes on the full time responsibility of caring for the father, who can't talk. Ben soon decides that the way to get the father to recover is to build the barn the father spoke of. Against obstacles including common sense, the kids decide to build the barn the father wanted.
In many ways the plot offers little new, but the ending is real and non-Disney-ish. The book reads fast and I got caught up in the language, but when you think about it few 10 year olds are as wise as Ben -- actually, none I've met are. It was hard to believe a boy would make all the observations he made, even if he was bright. I taught the highly gifted class which required an IQ of over 140 and few if any of those fourth and fifth graders had Ben's level of maturity. I think it's a good book for 4th and 5th graders, but doesn't stand up to much analysis.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
again. I liked the black and white drawings that showed Dante's journey through Hell to Paradise. Hell seemed hellish and paradise was quite nice. The drawings make the poetry clearer and so one can visualize Dante's understanding of these supernatural realms. Dante and Virgil are dressed in outfits that evoke film noir and that worked for me. This poem a perfect choice for a graphic novel, which simplifies without really dumbing down the original. I do think it will spur many to read the original. What more do you want?
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Blanche gets pulled into starting her own band and finds new talents and challenges as they compete for a spot at a reknown music festival. Throughout Blanche smart and engaging. The plot progresses in interesting directions and the minor characters are well drawn and all able to challenge Blanche to divest herself of easy answers and idealized notions. It's a good read and goes beyond what I expect to find in a work written for teens. (I realize that's my own bias.)
It's interesting that I read this as I watched Once another work that looks at the world of musicians, who're outside the mainstream fame and fortune.
This could make a good family drama on television. One, like "Joan" with authentic smart characters coping with tough issues.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Wong later remembered this incident and felt guilty and concerned. Many years have passed and Wong returns to look for the woman who's name she's unsure of. As she searches for this woman, she and her family encounter the nouveau riche of today's China. They drive expensive cars, live in vast, expensively decorated condos and make tons of money.
While I enjoyed Red China Blues: My Long March From Mao to Now and Jan Wong's China more. Still this book features the humor and insight that make Wong's work well worth reading. Because she knows the language and culture so well, lived in China on and off from the '70s through the 90's, Wong can penetrate the culture as few can.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
While driving to Colorado, I got to listen to Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woodson CD. I should share that this was the first time I'd listened to a book "on tape" (CD actually). It took me a while to warm up to this, but I did. I'd never read any of Bryson's other work, but I did know that he was a well known writer.
A Walk in the Woods describes Bryson's adventures hiking the Appalachian Trail with Stephen Katz, a friend he hadn't seen in 25 years, a friend who never said no to a Little Debbie cake and who owed him $600. The addition of Katz and the humor he provides made the book.
Throughout the narrative, Bryson sounds like a Victorian dandy. Though he grew up in Iowa, spending several years in England left him with an English accent, a rather upper class accent at that. He uses a lot of language like "mis-attired" and "we hastened across the road." I can see some readers getting put off by that.
Yet, I found it funny. Often I laughed with Bryson as he bore Katz's eccentricities and laughed at him when he just got to foppish. In both cases, I'd laugh out loud.
Despite the affectation, I did find the book enjoyable and learned a lot about the history, flora and fauna of a great trail.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
NPR Correspondent Garrels has covered wars in Russia, Kosovo and Iraq. She is intelligent, brave and personal as she describes her work covering the lead up to the war starting in the fall of 2002 up to and shortly after the invasion in 2003. It was a riveting story that reveals the behind the scenes look at the getting of the stories as well as the personal insights from the Iraqis she spoke with and got to know. Garrels has a good voice, and I dare say this CD set was more powerful and touching than reading the book would be. I came away with an even greater appreciation of the reporters who strive to be our eyes and ears in these danger zones.
Garrel's observations and remembrances are interspersed with her husband's messages to their friends and family. These were perceptive and interesting, but I'm not sure they were necessary.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
By Ben Stein, who can be too conservative for my tastes, this slim book is just mean spirited and misses the humor mark by a mile. It consists of 35 short essays on how to ruin one's life. Topics include: Don't Clean Up After Yourself, Be a Perfectionist (Right like Martha Stewart has ruined her life), Don't Learn Any Self-Discipline, Don't Learn Any Useful Skills.
The book's problems are many. I'll list a few:
- It's not funny and a humorous book should be. This just comes off as smug and obvious. There were no surprises or insights into human nature, which one expects from even mediocre humor.
- It preaches to the choir. There's no way anyone with one of these chronic bad habits would read this book.
- It's mean-spirited. Stein just comes across as condescending, as someone who's looking down at people with problems from some Mt. Olympus vantage point.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I was struck by how moralistic the book is. All the characters are so good and are constantly urging each other to live out their favored virtues. The style wasn't great, but there's enough that's sufficiently charming that it's readable.I did pick it up with the feeling of obligation, but got through each daily selection so I'd finish in time. Louisa May Alcott just isn't a great writer.
I did wonder about the society and woman that produced this book. This book is so overtly moralist and the problems quite easy to address that it doesn't instruct modern readers, but it does tell the about an earlier time, or one corner of the country during an earlier time. I can see how many people wouldn't like this. However, I am struck by how popular this book is in China. Many of my students love it. They love the sisters' togetherness and the feeling of family. They also love the morality and romance though it's predictable.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Right up front: My friend David wrote this book, an autobiography, and this isn't an impartial review. How can one be impartial about a friend's autobiography.
Also, I haven't finished reading it yet.
However, after laughing about three times while reading a bit today, I had to write about it and recommend it.
Raw Talent follows the life of a journey man writer-filmmaker, one who so far hasn't hit the big time, but has found success and it seems peace.
Starting as a boy, Hall loved to write and make films. He chronicles his development of his craft, his mistakes, naivete, successes and insights. Now I'm reading about a time when he was living in Los Angeles, where we met, and he was getting a lot of opportunities to pitch stories. The anecdotes about the characters and egos he meets is hilarious.
He does mention me in the book a little and it's rather weird reading about a friend's perception of me.
A good book for anyone interested in making it in Hollywood.
Friday, June 04, 2010
The book is well researched. Philip Pan was a Washington Post reporter in China for many years and got good access to his subjects. Learning about China's current issues through the lives of brave individuals is a powerful way to learn about the country.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
In some ways, it is not surprising that Mansfield Park was not among the novels initially adapted for film or that the filmmaker altered the novel so radically. Although Mansfield Park has never been without defenders, it has long been regarded as Austen's least-popular novel, largely because of the supposed unattractiveness of the novel's heroine, Fanny Price.( n18) Literary critics have tended to regard Fanny as at best "essentially passive and uninteresting,"( n19) and at worst "morally detestable," "a monster of complacency and pride...under a cloak of cringing self-abasement."( n20) In one of the most famous critiques of Mansfield Park, Lionel Trilling remarks, "Nobody, I believe, has ever found it possible to like the heroine of Mansfield Park."( n21)I found this on my library's database so most anyone can I think with the above citation.
Those who, like Trilling, regard Austen as reactionary, a defender of society against the newer claims of romanticism or the self, tend to see Mansfield Park as Austen's clearest and most explicit statement of her position. Although such critics argue that all of Austen's works support conventional morality, they maintain that in her earlier novels, especially Pride and Prejudice, which she rewrote for publication just before beginning Mansfield Park, Austen's defense of society was done in a way that was pleasing, that depicted characters with humor and wit as worthy of emulation, due chiefly to Austen's much admired use of irony. However, in writing Mansfield Park, such critics maintain, Austen turned her back on this style of writing, and taking on a more sober and excessively moralistic style, wrote her least-pleasing, most overtly rationalistic tome, in which irony has no place.
Even among those who claim that Austen is a romantic, that she defends individual happiness over and against the claims of society, some express disapprobation toward Mansfield Park and argue that it is an anomaly among Austen's works.( n22) However, in recent years, a number of critics within this camp have begun to argue that Austen's intentions in writing Mansfield Park have long been fundamentally misunderstood. They claim that Austen does not intend her readers to regard Fanny Price as the heroine of the novel, as is the case with the central female characters in her other novels, but rather as a kind of antiheroine, to be pitied perhaps, but not to be admired and emulated.( n23) Austen wrote Mansfield Park, such critics claim, as a parody of the popular instructive novels of the day, frequently of an evangelical, pietistic nature, which were intended primarily to provide moral guidance to young women. The plots of such novels center on innocent, exemplary young women whose purity of heart both enables them to avoid many moral pitfalls and motivates those fortunate enough to know them to take up the path of moral righteousness as well. Arguing along these lines, the well-known critic Claudia L. Johnson maintains that in writing Mansfield Park Austen turns the instructive novel on its head. Rather than defending the social institutions of the day, especially the family, Austen condemns them "by registering [their] impact on a heroine who, though a model of female virtue and filial gratitude, is betrayed by the same ethos she dutifully embraces. ...This painful and richly problematic identification makes Mansfield Park Austen's most, rather than her least, ironic novel and a bitter parody of conservative fiction."( n24)
Mansfield Park has been subject to such harsh and divisive interpretation, I believe, not because it is anomalous among Austen's works but because of Austen's treatment of its three pre-eminent and interrelated themes, (a) proper female behavior, (b) the role of religious belief in human life, and (c) the connection between virtue and happiness. Although, as I shall argue, Austen does not treat these themes in a way that conforms simply to the conservatism of her day, she treats them in a way that also contrasts sharply with the claims of modernity.
First, in regard to Austen's treatment of female behavior in the novel, it is true, as critics frequently claim, that Fanny Price is different in many ways from Austen's other central female characters, particularly the witty Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice and the charming Emma Woodhouse of Emma. Unlike any of Austen's other central female characters, Fanny is described as displaying "great timidity" (MP, 14).( n25) Furthermore, Fanny is not as physically robust as Austen's other central female characters. As a result of the unhealthy conditions of her early childhood, her lack of freedom to exercise, or some combination of the two, she tires easily. However, it is not the case, as many critics claim, that Fanny is inherently sickly or "debilitated," and certainly not the case that Austen presents such a condition as a virtue.( n26)
Neither the character of Fanny Price nor the novel as a whole is as anomalous as some claim. Like Anne Elliott of Persuasion and the Dashwood sisters of Sense and Sensibility, Fanny Price is a young woman of unusually deep feelings, what Austen calls "sensibility." Austen suggests that the heightened sensibility of each of these characters is due, at least in part, to the loss of her childhood home. Fanny's more extreme sensibility, Austen suggests, stems from her having lost both her home and her family at a young age and her awareness that the family and house within which she lives are not truly her own.
Furthermore, while the claim that Mansfield Park is in some sense a satirical response to the instructional novels of the day is quite persuasive, it is not true that Austen meant to present Fanny Price as unlikable, and certainly not as an antiheroine. To the contrary, Austen writes in such a way that, as the book progresses, the reader comes to sympathize more and more with Fanny, to admire her strength of will, purity of heart, and good judgment. As Anne Crippen Ruderman remarks, "Fanny is not charming, and yet the remarkable thing is that it is extremely difficult to read Mansfield Park without rooting for her in some way."( n27) The reason is that, although Fanny is different from Austen's other heroines in many respects, she nevertheless shares with them in an overarching characteristic, the love of virtue.( n28)
Like Aristotle, Austen points to the centrality of prudence in the achievement of virtue. While Austen sometimes uses the word "prudence," she more frequently refers to this virtue by using words such as "good judgment" and "understanding." Austen indicates, like Aristotle, that the development of prudence requires training from one's youth. One must have someone external to oneself who possesses what Aristotle's calls "right reason" as a teacher or guide, but eventually this guidance or direction must come from within oneself. That is, a human being becomes truly prudent when she no longer relies on another for guidance, but rather understands for herself why she should perform or refrain from certain actions. Aristotle defines prudence as a virtue of intellect, but one that, to be perfected, must be combined with emotive disposition or character. That is, prudence entails both intellectual virtue with respect to directive action--in particular, it is associated with the ability to deliberate well in achieving one's ends--and moral virtue in regard to feeling as one should. Mansfield Park, as all of Austen's novels, supports this view.
At the age of ten, Fanny is taken from her large, relatively poor family in Portsmouth and placed in the home of her uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, at the large estate known as Mansfield Park. Fanny grows up alongside her four cousins: Tom, the heir, then eighteen; Edmund, a prospective clergyman, then sixteen; Maria, then fourteen, and Julia, then twelve. Almost immediately upon arriving at Mansfield, Fanny is befriended by her cousin Edmund, who seeks to make her feel more comfortable in the household. Edmund enables Fanny to write to her brother William, two years her elder, whom she loves dearly and with whom she thereafter regularly corresponds as she grows up at Mansfield. Edmund eventually oversees her education by directing her reading of books and discussing them with her. Unlike the other Bertram children, Edmund grows into a morally serious young man and, admiring Fanny's intelligence and moral goodness, comes to hold her in deep, sisterly affection. Although Edmund is wholly unaware of it, Fanny eventually falls in love with him. Fanny keeps her feelings for Edmund hidden, believing that her lowly position makes it almost impossible for him or any of the Bertrams to consider her his equal.
One of the first things Edmund discerns about Fanny when he becomes acquainted with her is her love of virtue, observing that she has "an affectionate heart, and a strong desire of doing right" (MP, 14). Rather than valuing "reason" over "emotion," or vice versa, Fanny combines great emotional depth--"sensibility"--with the desire to be good, that is, to discern and abide by rationally discerned principles of morality. It is because of this, Austen indicates in Mansfield Park, as in all of her novels, that Fanny is capable of achieving true happiness. Although Fanny is timid and thinks little of her importance within the Mansfield household, she takes seriously the development of virtue in her life. Grateful for the attention she begins to receive from her cousin Edmund, Fanny takes advantage of the circumstances in which she finds herself to improve her mind and her character.
Over and over again Austen makes reference to Fanny's struggles to act in ways that conform to her "duty," which Fanny understands to involve both thinking or judging correctly as well as feeling correctly.( n29) For example, when Fanny is sixteen years old, her uncle, Sir Thomas, in the face of financial difficulties brought on largely by the profligate behavior of his elder son and heir, Tom, departs for what turns out to be a two-year-long trip to Antigua, where he owns a sugar plantation. Sir Thomas's daughters, Maria and Julia, take great joy in his departure, knowing they will now be "relieved...from all restraint" and "have every indulgence within their reach" (MP, 25). Although Fanny is as relieved as her cousins, she cannot take pleasure in Sir Thomas's departure. Rather, "a more tender nature suggested that her feelings were ungrateful, and she really grieved because she could not grieve" (MP, 25). Furthermore, as she comes to realize that Edmund is falling in love with their new neighbor, Mary Crawford, Fanny is aware that her judgment of Mary may be adversely influenced by feelings of jealousy. Aware that her jealousy of Mary might cloud her judgment, she continually challenges herself to judge Mary's character fairly, that is, "independently of self" (MP, 249). However, Fanny cannot help judging Mary to be morally flawed, believing her to have "a mind led astray and bewildered, and without any suspicion of being so; darkened, yet fancying itself light" (MP, 249). Nevertheless, in reflecting on the fact that Edmund will likely propose marriage to Mary, even Fanny's feelings of jealousy do not lead her to abandon virtue. Unlike her cousin Julia, whose jealousy upon realizing that Henry Crawford prefers Maria to her leads her to want revenge against them both, Fanny's jealousy leads her to experience sorrow rather than spite, and she responds to Edmund's preference for Mary by offering "fervent prayers for his happiness" rather than wishing that he or Mary be made to suffer (MP, 181).
Walsh, G. (2002). Is Jane Austen Politically Correct? Interpreting Mansfield Park. Perspectives on Political Science, 31(1), 15. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
And again I enjoyed the language and insights Austen offers. This story is quite different as the main character is meek and doesn't have the spunk that Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse have. Still she's an interesting character. Also, the last chapters are considerably darker as Austen planned and the ending is so abrupt, but if you're going to be an Austen devotee, you should read Mansfield Park
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Keller's book is an apologetic for smart, skeptical readers. He tries (and many would say succeeds) in explaining why God's existence makes sense. He debunks the current claims that attempt to "prove" God doesn't exist like How could there be a hell if God's all loving? or the question of pain and suffering. He presents his side thoroughly and intelligently.
In the end, God's existence or non-existence is a leap of faith. I thought Keller was brilliant when he points out that not believing in God or not thinking religion should enter into realms like politics was in fact a belief so that those who might say let's keep religion out of social policy are actually advocating for their belief system to dominate, was insightful.
Keller started a church in New York years ago. So many told him he'd never get people to go to church in New York. Yet he's built a big, thriving faith community with members from all walks of life, from artistes dressed in black to Wall St. financial whizzes, many of whom are highly educated, skeptical and street smart. What's interesting is he didn't compromise the faith by ditching dogma or rules to do so.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I really wanted to like Katherine Paterson's The Master Puppeteer, an historical novel for young readers set in Japan during a time of famine. It seemed like a good choice for a quick read about a culture I find fascinating. It took me so longer to read than I expected because I'd put it down and just lack the interest in reading more. I never connected or really believed in the characters.
The story is set in feudal Japan during a famine when a Robin Hood-like figure, Saburo, roams the city stealing food from the rich to give to the poor. The main character is Jiro, a boy whose father makes puppets for Bunraku theater, an artistic fine art. His siblings died in the famine and the family has little to eat. The mother resembles Cinderella's step mother she has no love for Jiro, whose birth she blames for the death of her other children. His father seems like a kind, but weak man.
Jiro realizes it would help his family if he took a position as an apprentice at a reknown Bunraku theater. Like many such arrangements, Jiro finds himself in a new "home" with a tyrant who's talented, but intimidating, a kindly older man, and a collection of peers each with a different tick - e.g. the stutterer, the nice older boy, the resentful boy, etc. You've seen and read this kind of thing before.
As I read, I could easily see how the story would play out, and it followed the predicted course pretty much. Because I've lived in Japan, I was familiar with the historical era and Bunraku. I just never felt transported there and doubt that the intended audience, say 5th grade kids would really wrap their heads around life in that era or this art form. Paterson visited Japan to research this book, but it still just felt so stilted. So different from Sigrid Undset's work which is just or maybe more foreign to me. Yet with Undset I felt right in the thick of things.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Undset describes the era and emotions with authenticity and art. Great reading.
Over the weekend I saw Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. I went excited to actually see a film in a theater and to see fantastic eye candy. There was plenty of eye candy, but I thought it actually overwhelmed the film. The make up, especially the darkened eyes that made some of the characters look like they had TB, was quite distracting. There was a continuity problem with Alice's eyes as they randomly alternated between darkened and not.
The classic tale is framed by Burton's addition of a story of Alice's life. In the first scenes she's about 5 or 6 and nightmares wake her. She asks her father if it's normal to see Madhatters, etc. I just thought what young child is concerned with "normalcy." None I've met and some I know are very imaginative and eccentric. Later we see Alice getting pushed into an engagement with a simpering wimp with good family connections and prestige. I wished the story had something I hadn't seen over 100 times in various forms. There are other ways in which society makes women conform.
The computer graphics were well done, but the narrative was weak. The showdown in the end was particularly lazy. To prove a young woman is strong, must she slay a dragon? Does she have to prove that she's manly? Can't someone be more creative? I hope someone else does another version in a few years that uses this story in a novel way. Give me more than just eye candy.
This book looks good.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
One thing I loved was the essays and extras in the back. This book has a lot of conversation in defense of novels. Nowadays it's hard to imagine that reading novels would be seen as a waste of time (some sure, but all, no). In the back of the book, readers are treated to a few of the rantings against novels. Here's an excerpt from Coleridge:
For as to the devotees of the circulating libraries, I dare not compliment their pass-time, or rather kill-time, with the name of reading. Call it rather a sort of beggarly day-dreaming, during which the mind of the dreamer furnishes for itself nothing but laziness, and a little mawkish sensibility; while the whole material and and imagery of the doze is supplied ab extra (from without) by a sort of mental camera obscura manufactured at the printing office, which pro tempore fixes, reflects, and transmits the moving phantasms of one man's delirium, so as to people the barrenness of a hundred other brains afflicted with the same trance or suspension of all common sense and all definite purpose. We should therefore transfer this species of amusement--(if indeed those can be said to retire a musis, who were never in their company, or relaxation be attributable to those whose bows never bent)--from the genus, reading, to that comprehensive class characterized by the power of reconciling the two contrary yet co-existing propensities of human nature, namely indulgence of sloth, and hatred of vacancy.What a snob. He continues, but you get the point. Wordsworth also felt novels blunted the mind. They never got to read Proust.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
It's a good read, but not a favorite, as some parts seemed contrived. It is one of the first novels so we should cut it some slack. There's a lot of energy and spice.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
wound up being an edifying, though sometimes dry, look at Chaucer's life and times. I learned a lot about the peasant revolt, the early stirrings against church corruption and how Medieval politics and government worked. The people were beginning to be more involved than I expected. I had never heard of this major peasant revolt against the baronage. The peasants wanted a good king to rule with no self-interested class in between. (They'd have seen a self-interested king as a tyrant.)
Terry Jones from Monty Python offered lots of interesting commentary. That was a high point. The weakness of the documentary was the long narration. The visuals were fitting when they should art of the period or some of the building from that time, but often it got repetitive. It seemed they were at a loss as to how to visualize Chaucer's life and times. I do see this as good for students learning about Chaucer, because they'll get a lot of information, though I'd probably break down the viewings to half hour segments.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
The story follows Kristin, daughter (i.e. datter as the suffix of her surname) of Lavran, from childhood when she's showered with fatherly love and given lots of freedom to her young adulthood when she is betrothed to a man she respects but doesn't love and falls for dashing Erlend, a handsome, callow rake. While many novels deal with such situations, Undset takes readers down unexpected paths in this first book of a trilogy.
I read this book for my online book club, and am so glad our leader chose it. I had never heard of Undset, though she won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The book reads fast. The descriptions are vivid and readers get such perceptive insights into all the major characters, whom one seem truly of their period rather than moderns placed back in time. I will get the next book in the series: Kristin Lavransdatter II: The Wife (Penguin Classics)