It’s not an easy read; a portrait of a land, and a people, and a person – Bjartur of Summerhouses. It’s definitely easier to read this if you have visited Iceland; seen, and felt, the landscape. If you have you can imagine the small house they live in, and the harsh, unforgiving environment but also the beauty of it, and you can understand why Bjartur clings to his life there. It’s possibly about the only thing you can symphersise with him over, so beastly otherwise he can be.

Written as four parts, it does get a bit unrelentingly depressing during the third part which I had to really force myself to read through, and the second half of the book is not as good as the first half but that is possibly because by now we have had all the imagery of Iceland by then. By the end of the book it is a bit of a relief, with it all ending pretty much where it began, but I do feel satisfied for having finished it.

( Independent People by Halldór Laxness )

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