Sometimes grim, sometimes uproarious, and always captivating, Iceland’s Bell by Nobel Laureate Halld r Laxness is at once an updating of the traditional Icelandic saga and a caustic social satire. At the close of the 17th century, Iceland is an oppressed Danish colony, suffering under extreme poverty, famine, and plague. A farmer and accused cord-thief named Jon Hreggvidsson makes a bawdy joke about the Danish king and soon after finds himself a fugitive charged with the murder of the king’s hangman.
In the years that follow, the hapless but resilient rogue Hreggvidsson becomes a pawn entangled in political and personal conflicts playing out on a far grander scale. Chief among these is the star-crossed love affair between Snaefridur, known as “Iceland’s Sun,” a beautiful, headstrong young noblewoman, and Arnas Arnaeus, the king’s antiquarian, an aristocrat whose worldly manner conceals a fierce devotion to his downtrodden countrymen. As their personal struggle plays itself out on an international stage, Iceland’s Bell creates a Dickensian canvas of heroism and venality, violence and tragedy, charged with narrative enchantment on every page.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - gbill - LibraryThing
I was turned on to Halldór Laxness by references to his work in David Mitchell’s recent novel The Bone Clocks, and am glad for it. I’ll say at the outset that Adam Haslett could not have put in any ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - hagertyhartfeldt - LibraryThing
Tried to get started three times, failed each time. Not sufficiently novelistic for me (i.e., characters are flat). Read full review