I’m slowly making my way through the Boxall list of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. These books (obviously) aren’t all I read, but I try to get to at least one each month.
So…this is what I have done all week.
Normally, I finish 2-3 books per week, but this week, only this one. This audiobook is long: actually 3 different novels pulled together. In print, it’s over 1000 pages, and this Audible edition is 45 hours long. It is a lot to take in, and I have a lot to say about it.
Set in Norway in the 14th century, this is the story of Kristin, who is the daughter of a wealthy noble, from childhood through her death. Rich in detail, obviously rigorously researched, and beautifully written. There were parts that literally brought me to tears, and parts where I wished I had a physical book to throw across the room.
The imagery is intense, and some of the descriptions were just poetic. The way Undset describes the moon sailing over the world… just blew me away, and I can’t even articulate why.
As a mother of 5 children, I totally connected to Kristin’s feelings towards her children and motherhood. As a single mom in my early 40s, with kids in college, high school, and elementary, I also identified with her internal struggles with regard to her changing role as she and her kids got older. Some things are timeless.
All of that said, I had moments when I wondered why I was still listening. I struggle with books about devoutly religious characters, and I had more than enough of hearing how Kristin sinned against God and her father by having the audacity to want something passionate for herself. There is lots and lots of judging going on here.
Still, Kristin is a great character because she could be anyone at anytime… struggling through life and making decisions about what she wants and what is right and proper.
Ultimately, I couldn’t stop because I was invested in Kristin’s experiences, and I’m glad I read on. I have many feelings, but this is an awesome read.