Lessons from Kristin Lavransdatter

seven quick takes friday 2

Literary nerds, these takes are for you!

Kristin Lavransdatter cover
I like BIG BOOKS and I cannot lie!

I finished up Kristin Lavransdatter last week and I cannot stop thinking about it. I can’t decide if it’s my favorite book ever (vs Anna Karenina) or not. Plus I keep picturing Tom Hiddleston as Erlend, which makes it even harder for me to figure out whether or not I’m more angry with Erlend or Kristen. These are the struggles that are keeping me up at night!!! (Since I’m not on the Whole30 anymore, I’m back to washing brownie sundaes down with wine right before bed and sleeping horribly.)

Kristin Lavransdatter book
KL would be a good choice for your Kindle.

So this weeks quick takes are inspired by Sigrid Undset’s Nobel prize winning work: seven life lessons from Kristen Lavransdatter.

1. Don’t allow you parents to arrange a marriage for you because you’ll be miserable.

2. Don’t pick your own spouse because you’ll be miserable.

3.When plotting to overthrow your government, don’t assume your paramour is illiterate.

4. Persist in getting what you want at all costs, then complain bitterly.

5. Adultery doesn’t count when it’s with pagans or people outside your social circle.

6. Just because you’ve dedicated your whole life to being the perfect spouse and mother doesn’t mean your husband won’t still hold a 20 year torch for your sister.

7. Illegitimate children were all the rage in medieval Norway. 

What did Kristen Lavransdatter teach you?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or visit me at the CHAPLET Homeschool Conference tomorrow and argue with me in person. I’ll also be speaking on how to homeschool through difficult circumstances, which is actually easier to do than writing a light-hearted talk about said topic. 

Don’t forget to link up your takes below. Make sure to link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the takes! I look forward to reading your posts!


  1. Ok, so I must not be a literary nerd since I haven’t read this book…Wait! When and how did you find time to read a book, much less this really big book??? That’s impressive! 🙂 Your talk about homeschooling through difficult times sounds great! Have a blessed weekend and as always thanks for hosting 7QT! Tracy @ http://www.asliceofsmithlife.com

  2. I began this last year but just couldn’t stop all the 14-letter Surnames from distracting me from the story, combined with a problem of starting books then not getting around to finishing them. A friend suggested I print off the character list from Wiki to help me plough through it. I did. It is folded up in the book and no more has been read. Now maybe I can just read this post instead. Sounds like it sums up the mood of the book quite well, from what I gathered from the first few chapters. When is anyone going to write an amazing literary piece that has good things happen to good people and bad things to bad people?… wait, I think they have already. It’s called fairy tales. If you know of any grown-up fairy tales that are as thick as K.L. with maybe less nordic spelling, I’d love to hear about them.

  3. I’m not a book nerd but when I find a good book watch out. Example: I was reading the abridged version of the Count of Monte Cristo and switched over to the unbridged version because I liked it so much. My reigning favorite book ever is Crime and Punishment and I didn’t even have to read that for a class/school/college.

  4. Oh Kristin. Glad you enjoyed it, too! She’s still in my heart three years later, too. What did she teach me? That book played a huge part in finally taking the homeschool plunge. I don’t know why, really. I guess my firstborn reminded me so much of Kristin. I remember thinking over and over while reading it: we don’t teach/help girls how to grow into wives/moms anymore. Not the deepest of thoughts, probably, but it’s what I walked away thinking.

  5. I keep wanting to read it too, but the darn names just exhaust me a couple of pages in! I guess it is worth plowing through….although shortly I am going into newborn mode again!

  6. After hearing SO much about this book on the Fountains of Carrots podcast, I put it on my list of books to read in 2015. And now you’re making me want to start it NOW. (But I’m in the middle of reading like 4 other books…I have a problem…)

  7. Read it last year and loved/hated it. In some ways it was like spending 1,000 pages with myself – yuck! But it was a great book, though grim.

  8. My favorite book, which is also a thick one, is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. The audio version is incredible. I have read that one about eight times.

  9. I have read Kristin Lavrensdatter twice. I love it. I love that even though Kristin sins and makes terrible decisions she strives for holiness and stays with her faith. I loved the historical details, especially about the part the Catholic faith plays in everyone’s daily life. The liturgical holidays and seasons are lived out in society much more than present day. And to be honest, I enjoyed the soap opera aspect to this book. My husband read this book and liked it a lot (a surprise). He used a family tree print out from the internet to help with the names and relationships and found that very helpful. We talked about this and (spoiler alert) both agreed that there is a sign at the very end of the book that Kristin reaches heaven. And for that reason I think the book is a very hopeful book.

      1. I think both my husband and I may be stretching here. But at the very end when Kristin is dying, Ulf and the priest leave her. The “white sheen was strangely dazzling on the steep slant of the church roof…; the tower was pale against the murky gray sky……..They breathed in the air. After the suffocating smell that always surrounded someone stricken with the plague, it tasted sweet and cool…as if this snowfall had washed all sickness and contagion out of the air.” It makes me think of heaven and the sweet smell some saints emit when they are dead. Saint Teresa of Avila is said to have emitted a heavenly smell when she died.

  10. I looooove Kristin. Another lesson: Don’t look at ANY fires while you’re pregnant. DON’T EVEN GLANCE AT THEM. Candles? NO. Woodstove? Are you kidding me? NO.

  11. I read the first book and couldn’t stand Kristen so I didn’t read the rest…but then the book stayed on my mind and I eventually read the last two. I *think* I ended up liking her more in the end…I’m not sure. I loved seeing how “Catholic” life was in that time and place.

  12. I’ve read most of Sigrid Undset’s books available in English and loved the Master of Hestviken series most of all. So much so that I can’t even remember much of Kristin. My husband and I still have an unrealized dream to go to Finland, Norway, and Sweden, after reading Undset. Anna Karenina is still my favorite book, though.

  13. Whhhhhyyy have I never heard of this book? I’m so ashamed that my degree in college was a great books program and I haven’t read this. Thank goodness for Kindles and 1 Click buying! 🙂

  14. Hahaha, this list! So funny. #3!! Can’t say enough about the epic awesomeness of Kristin. And my baby just woke prematurely so I can’t type it all out…

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  16. I’m such a Jane Austen fan… witty, clever, happy endings… would I like Undset? She just sounds so depressing!

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