Finished the last 40 pages of The Cross, the third and final book in the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy and closed the book with a satisfied snap. I thought this was the weakest of the three books, and the ending seemed--well, you hate to say "rushed" when you've just finished reading 1000 pages about medieval Norway--but it was not as satisfying as I expected. But good. Still very, very good.
I suppose the thing I was the most disappointed by was that I never thought Kristin ever realized or acknowledged, as deeply as she should have, just how very manly and good Simon had been to both her and to Erlend all her life. And I thought the most touching scene in the whole book was his death--how he intended to tell her, finally, just how much he had always loved her, but then he did not. Instead he told her that she should make peace with her husband, for her own sake and for the sake of her sons.
Take that you overwrought Bronte girls. No "I'm dying so I'll wreck the lives of everyone around me" scene here.
And then here is the paragraph, at Kristin's death, that resonated so strongly with me [the mark she is seeing is the mark left behind of an "M" for the Virgin Mary from her wedding ring, worn all these many years]:
And the last clear thought that formed in her brain was that she should die ere this mark had time to vanish--and she was glad. It seemed to her to be a mystery that she could not fathom, but which she knew most surely none the less, that God had held her fast in a covenant made for her without her knowledge by a love poured out upon her rickly--and in despite of her self-will, in despite of her heavy, earthbound spirit, somewhat of this love had become part of her, had wrought in her like sunlight in the earth, had brought forth increase which not even the hottest flames of fleshly love nor its wildest bursts of wrath could lay waste wholly. A handmaiden of God had she been--a wayward, unruly servant, oftenest an eye-servant in her prayers and faithless in her heart, slothful and neglectful, impatient under correction, but little constant in her deeds--yet had he held her fast in his service, and under the glittering golden ring a mark had been set secretly upon her, showing that she was His handmaid, owned by the Lord and King who was now coming, borne by the priest's annointed hands to give her freedom and salvation--
Oh, so excellent!