Finished the second book of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, The Mistress of Husaby. Excellent, excellent, excellent. Liked it even better than the first book of the trilogy. Kristin is bidding hard for my all time best list.
The thing that so impresses me is the author's absolute insight and honesty into Kristin's heart and actions. She does not sugarcoat Kristin--she is clear about both her good traits and her bad. Kristin is a wise mistress at Husaby (her husband's estates), and she loves him. But she sees clearly how weak her husband is in maintaining his assets, how often he would rather be away and at sea, or at war.
Erlend loves Kristin, but he is unable to turn into what he is not--a man like her father. He is ever the boy-man, liked by others, but never taken seriously. He is unable to foresee, the way other men have, the consequences of his actions.
Kristin's father is a powerful figure in the book. Lavrans made a choice early in his life--the world over the church. Partly because he thought it was what his parents wanted, but also because he was drawn to the world as a young man. He has not always been sure about the choice he made.
Here are some of his words to Kristin about his life. They are speaking, and both know it is probably the last time they will be together before his actual dying:
But 'twas I myself that made choice of the world, and I have striven to think when the world went against me: Unmanful would it be to murmur at the lot I had chosen myself. For I have seen it more and more with each year I have lived--no worthier work can there be for a human soul that has found grace to conceive somewhat of God's loving-kindness, than to serve Him and watch and pray for those men whose sight is still darkened by the shadow of the things of this world. Yet must I needs say, my Kristin--hard would it be for me to give up for God's sake the life I have lived on my farms and lands, with cares for earthly things and with worldly cheer--with your mother by my side, and with you my children. Therefore must a man suffer in patience, when he has begotten offspring of his body, that it scorch his heart if he lose them or the world go badly with them. God, who gave them souls, owned them, and not I--