The Greenlanders

The Greenlanders

Book - 1988
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This enthralling epic tale, written in the tradition of the old Norse sagas, takes us to fourteenth-century Greenland--a farflung place of glittering fjords, blasting winds, sun-warmed meadows, and high, dark mountains. This   is the story of one family: proud landowner Asgeir Gunnarsson; his daughter Margret, whose willful independence leads her into passionate adultery and exi≤ and his son Gunnar, whose quest for knowledge is at the compelling center of this unforgettable book. Jane Smiley immerses us in this world of farmers, priests, and lawspeakers, of hunts and feasts and long-standing feuds, and by an act of literary magic, makes a remote time, place, and people not only real but dear to us.

Publisher: New York : Knopf, 1988
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400095469
1400095468
9780394551203
0394551206
Call Number: F
Characteristics: 558 p. ; 25 cm

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r
rationallady
Oct 30, 2014

I loved this book. It was an ethno vacation to a vanished culture. The Norse colony on Greenland lasted almost 500 years. Jane Smiley relates sixty years in the life of one family in quotidian detail with something exciting happening every so often, the way life was for most people in the past. This is a book to savor over the course of a month. Get in your time machine and spend an hour with the Greenlanders. You'll remember your trips long afterwards.

d
dianabolical
Aug 10, 2012

This is very different from the other Jane Smiley books I've read. I'm knocked out that she can write in such different styles, and I loved this book.

Norse people settled on Greenland for about four hundred years, until the Little Ice Age made it impossible for them to survive there in about 1400. I was surprised when, about a hundred pages in, I found myself getting completely absorbed in this book and its world. It's told in what can seem like a kind of flat style, maybe like Saga stories from Iceland, and there are over a hundred characters with crazy Viking names, so sometimes it's hard to remember who is who. Life was so bleak and violent, and all of the sudden, a character I'd come to care about would get crushed in the ice, starve to death, die in childbirth, or be bloodily murdered. I got caught up in the rhythms of survival in the north, the spring seal hunt, the short summer of constant hard work, the fall seal hunt, Yule, the hungry time of the year. I have a big weakness for historical fiction, and Greenland is such an alien and interesting place. Plus, it's like reading about the Donner Party or that guy who went up to Alaska and wound up having his story turned into Into the Wild-- you know they're doomed, and it's interesting seeing how it's going to play out.

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