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Sunday, September 03, 2006

This is the final book in the Kristin Lavransdatter triology, a chance to reflect on characters' lives. Kristin herself, while a sympathetic character, is not very likeable. Her actions are often inscrutable. During her girlhood all her family and neighbors admire her for her beauty and seeming goodness, yet again and again she fails to do what she ought and instead follows paths leading to sin and deception. It is as if she cannot resist her own desires; she must carry them out at all costs. Yet once obtained, they do not make her happy. She receives one disappointment after another from Erlend, her sons, and her family life. Filled with bitterness, she turns to God for healing, though she expresses anger with Him for allowing her to follow her own will into unhappiness and painful consequences.

Undset does not describe much about Erlend's thoughts or motives. Over several decades, he doesn't seem to mature at all, but remains as childish as ever. His basic childishness causes him to act in a very headstrong, imprudent way at crucial times, yet his love for Kristin is as pliable and forgiving as a child's, and he doesn't nurse grudges or hold on to bitterness. I found the struggle occurring in Simon Andresson to be the most intriguing part of the book. He was the intended husband of Kristin of Lavrans' choice. When he knew the Kristin loved Erlend, he released her from her betrothal but continues to love her. He tries to live a faithful and good life with his wife, but unhappily wishes that his marriage to Kristin could have taken place. He does not trouble Kristin with these longings, though he constantly dreams of telling her. Simon's honorable struggle demonstrates a self-discipline and courage that I admire.

Title:Kristin Lavransdatter III: The Cross
Author:Sigrid Undset
Date published:1922
Genre:Historical Fiction
Series:Kristin Lavransdatter
Number of pages:464


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