(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The collaboration of Elizabeth Gaynor, who has written for HOUSE AND GARDEN and HOUSE BEAUTIFUL, and Kari Haavisto, a Finnish photographer, has produced a book focused on homes that “share in the spirit of fundamental connection to a distinctive land.” Maintaining that the varied landscapes of the five Scandinavian countries-- Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland--have had a strong influence on their architectural and interior design, they have divided the book into five parts based on landscape rather than country: “From the Forest,” “By the Water,” “Across the Meadows,” “In Town,” and “Great Escapes.” Each section depicts houses in a wide variety of styles, from renovated farm dwellings to postmodern homes, and Gaynor introduces each home with information about its history or its occupants, past and present.

The glory of this book, however, lies in its photographs. One thinks of the long, dark Scandinavian winters, yet these homes are bathed in light. Haavisto’s mastery of available-light techniques yields a depth and texture to the white walls and light woods that predominate, and his work appears to be naturally lit even when circumstances argue otherwise--nighttime scenes of Christmas celebrations balance bright candle flames, the roughness of bread, and the face of a child. Indoor and outdoor scenes are handled equally well.

Haavisto and Gaynor did not intend to display Scandinavian solutions to the problems of housing disparate urban and rural populations; instead, they focus on homes which either through necessity or design blend with their surroundings, homes often occupied or constructed by professionals. The result is a book which beautifully depicts the harmonious meshing of home and land.