Icelandic Epic: Independent People

Halldor Laxness’s masterpiece, Independent People, won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature for its “vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland.” Both accessible and luminously written, this book will transport you to early Twentieth Century Iceland. You will feel its biting cold, its isolation, and see the stark beauty of a land that is both friend and foe to the people who dwell there.

Bjartur of Summerhouses is a sheep farmer whose steely determination to achieve independence, despite the forces against him— nature and the economy— is both heart wrenching and darkly comic. Bjartur buys a small farmhouse and some sheep after working eighteen years as a lowly servant, and wants only to raise his family and flocks without debt or obligation to any man. He finds his stubborn match in his daughter, who seeks her own independence, and their epic battle of wills is moving and illuminating. This rewarding read will not be forgotten; it will live forever in your heart.


While thoughts exist, words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living.

– Cyril Connolly

British literary critic Cyril Connolly (born September 10, 1903) was the founder and editor of Horizon, an influential literary magazine during World War II. His journalism career began with articles in popular periodicals like the New Statesman, The Observer, and The Sunday Times. He wrote just one novel, The Rock Pool, but he is best known for his collections of essays, including Enemies of Promise, The Condemned Playground, and The Unquiet Grave.

New book by the amazing Anne Tyler

Vinegar Girl is Anne Tyler’s delightful contribution to The Hogarth Shakespeare project, which has has some of today’s best novelists put a modern spin on Shakespeare’s most beloved works. Tyler bases her poignant yet hilarious book on The Taming of the Shrew. Thorny Kate Battista is in a rut. She’s tired of managing every household detail for her father, an eccentric scientist, and her shallow, pretty younger sister, Bunny. She works as a pre-school assistant teacher, and she’s  in hot water for her abrupt but honest manner with parents and faculty, even if the children do love her.

Kate’s father, Dr. Battista, is  a research scientist in a quandary. He is close to a break-through in an important a research project he has been working on for years. However, Pyotr, the brilliant  young scientist who assists him,  has received  notice he will soon face deportation.  Without Pyotr,  Dr. Battista doubts he can ever finish the research. So he hatches a plan to keep  Pyotr in the country. He wants Katie to marry his research assistant. Katie is livid. This time, her father is asking way too much of her. But will she be able to resist joining in her father’s preposterous scheme?

The characters are so delightful and funny I laughed on every surprisingly touching page.  I think you will enjoy this one. Pease let me know what you think after you read it.