Monday, 13 March 2017

Book Review: Paradise Reclaimed by Halldór Laxness

Title: Paradise Reclaimed
Author: Halldór Laxness
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 2002 (1960)
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Xmas Gift

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The quixotic hero of this long-lost classic is Steinar of Hlidar, a generous but very poor man who lives peacefully on a tiny farm in nineteenth-century Iceland with his wife and two adoring young children. But when he impulsively offers his children's beloved pure-white pony to the visiting King of Denmark, he sets in motion a chain of disastrous events that leaves his family in ruins and himself at the other end of the earth, optimistically building a home for them among the devout polygamists in the Promised Land of Utah. By the time the broken family is reunited, Laxness has spun his trademark blend of compassion and comically brutal satire into a moving and spellbinding enchantment, composed equally of elements of fable and folklore and of the most humble truths.  (Goodreads Synopsis)

I've been a huge fan of Halldór Laxness since I first read Independent People. I am now working my way through all his translated works, after which, I hope my Icelandic will improve enough to read his other stories. Paradise Reclaimed is just as wonderful as my previous reads. Laxness has a wonderful wry sense of humour that contrasts perfectly with the emotional depth in his stories. His tales always possess a keen sense of place, and his characters are always memorable and beautifully portrayed. I so often smile when I read his words, even though the situations should probably make me want to weep. Laxness is, without a doubt, one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century.

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