Kristin Lavransdatter

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Book one begins the story of Kristin, daughter of Lavrans Bjorgulfson, a wealthy landowner. Sober and religious, Lavrans lavishes love and attention on Kristin, who grows into a loving and gentle, yet stubborn and passionate woman. Kristin falls in love with a handsome but dissolute nobleman, Erlend Nikulausson, who has a bad reputation with women.

Erlend is not the sort of husband Lavrans wants for his daughter, and he refuses permission for their marriage. For two years Kristin stubbornly waits, refusing to marry anyone else. Finally, seeing Kristin’s sorrow, Lavrans relents.

The second volume describes Kristin’s life as wife and mother. Kristin’s passion for Erlend cools somewhat during years of constant work, the birth of seven sons, and Erlend’s imprisonment for political intrigue.

The last book tells of Kristin’s later years, when, his lands forfeit to the crown, Erlend and Kristin return to her childhood home. Kristin hopes for a normal home like the one she experienced as a child, but Erlend is not happy, and eventually he and Kristin separate. Her sons grown, Kristin enters a convent.

Medieval religious attitudes fill this novel. To Kristin, God is the source of love and compassion, and through her hard experiences she learns that the love which her father had for her mirrors the Creator’s love for His children. Like her own father, God does not compel his stubborn and willful children to obedience;...

(The entire section is 546 words.)