[Reading] ➸ The Sea Road ➮ Margaret Elphinstone – Uroturk.info

The Sea Road A Haunting, Compelling Historical Novel,The Sea Road Is A Daring Retelling Of The Th Century Viking Exploration Of The North Atlantic From The Viewpoint Of One Extraordinary Woman Gudrid Lives At The Remote Edge Of The Known World, In A Starkly Beautiful Landscape Where The Sea Is The Only Connection To The Shores Beyond It Is A World Where The Old Norse Gods Are Still Invoked Even As Christianity Gains Favor, Where The Spirits Of The Dead Roam The Vast Northern Ice Fields, Tormenting The Living, And Viking Explorers Plunder Foreign Shores Taking The Accidental Discovery Of North America As Its Focal Point, Gudrid S Narrative Describes A Multilayered Voyage Into The Unknown, All Recounted With Astonishing Immediacy And Rich Atmospheric Detail It s not very often that we get to see from a woman s viewpoint in a work of historical fiction in this time period early middle ages Margaret Elpinstone s brilliantly researched book The Sea Road portrays the life of Gudrid Thorbjornsdottir, now a national hero of Iceland She lived in the household of Erik the Red and married his son, but after his death she married Thorfinn Karlsefni, a great explorer in his own right She went to Vinland after Leif Ericson discovered it, and lived what must have been very harsh conditions there And she did so many things later in life, including a trip to Rome Elphinstone brings Gudrid alive The character is very believable, and I felt like the author had plucked her out of history so that I could sit down with her at the kitchen table.Fine piece of writing I d recommend it to any lovers of historical fiction. This is a wonderful novel, based on the travels of Gudrid who was the furthest travelled woman in the Viking era The reader feels really absorbed into the story and experiences the discomforts of the travel sleeping in damp cloaks in the boats, living through hard winters with little food and the beauty and harshness of the natural world We climbed up past the caves where the giants live, right to the glacier itself Close to, the glacier isn t the smooth white cone you see from out at sea It s streaked with spines of larva and the snow is dusty with ash There was cloud over the mountian, where the icedisappeared into a clammy mist that caught us in its breath as we passed Our ponies trudged through patches of snow and picked their way among boulders through streams of meltwater The glacier took a long time to pass Then we climbed down by a river with may waterfalls.Gudrin really comes alive in the narrative and I found myself really empathising with her She s also a fascinating historical character and this novel gives insight into her role in Viking explorations of Greenland and the eastern coasts of north America, where they cut down the forests to make boats and then left. This haunting book, set in Iceland, Greenland and Vinland, and on the sea that connects these lands, transports the reader a thousand years back through time Back to when ordinary people didn t read or write or have access to mirrors When people improvised to build seaworthy ships It s a spiritual journey, too Near the end of her life, Gudrid made a pilgrimage to Rome, where a cardinal decided he wanted an account of her life, presumably because she converted to Christianity while living among Vikings who still worshiped the old Norse gods An Icelandic priest, Agnar, was assigned to write down her riveting life story, exactly as she told it to him over three months of daily interviews Gudrid reminisces about what she learned from the people she lived with, from the natural world and the sea, and how her own beliefs were formed along the way. Love Love Love This just might be my favorite 2011 read I love Gudrid, I love her story, and I can not get over how much I enjoyed this book It s the story of the 11th centrury Islandic woman Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir Gu r ur orbjarnard ttir as transcribed by the fictive Icelandic monk Agnar, when they are both in Italy she for her pilgrimage, he for church government Gudrid tells Agnar of her childhood in Iceland, her early days of womanhood in Greenland, and her travels to the place we now know as Canada Slowly, a friendship between the old woman and the young monk develops and the stories become personal and Gudrids thoughts start to drift Though Agnar writes down the story exactly as Gunnar tells it complete with her thoughts and questions on their current roundabouts, life, death and God and leaves out his repsonses, still, this becomes the story of Agnar too, I think, as in between there are little cursive bits in present tense which appear to be him painting the picture, but it is never quite clear who s telling these things and you can leave them out and the interview would simple continue But nevermind this is a most interesting, wonderful story and though I usually do not mind finishing a book as it means I can go on new adventures by reading a new book, this one leaves me longing for just a bit of Gudrids wonderful presencechokengtitiktitikchokengs Google Arnarstapi, Sn fellsnes and Glaumb r and get a little taste of Gudrids Icelandic surroundings. This book was a wonderful indulgence as I ve been recovering from a cold this week With the wind howling outside, The Sea Road took me to medieval Iceland, the first settlement of Greenland and beyond to North America This fascinating historical novel is the story of Gudrid of Iceland, daughter in law to the explorer Erik the Red, as she accompanies her countrymen to the newly discovered land of Vinland Gudrid of Iceland was the furthest travelled woman in the world during the Viking Age and for a thousand years she has deserved a saga in her own right, says the back of the book.I was happy to see the note in the front that the characters and events in the novel are based on accounts recorded in those times, around the year 1050 The discovery of a new world is riveting all the so for the real sense I got of how these people lived and where they had come from I think even than by the exploration of a new land, I was most intrigued by the way of life in Iceland, this only the third generation of settlement on that island The ghosts, plagues, witchcraft and long, dark winters with their stories and folktales were vividly portrayed through Gudrid s words Also interesting is the description of the meeting of human cultures when Icelanders and Native Americans encounter each other for the first time Gudrid describes the natives as savages and skraelings, or demons or devils The Icelanders were predisposed to fight and kill when encountering anything new or strange, and so you can guess what the outcome was Violent conflict But because we experience these encounters through the eyes of the Icelandic witch as Gudrid was , knowing their cultural assumptions and biases enables us me anyway to imagine a different encounter where violent suspicion and bloodshed are not the first resort.This was the perfect time of year to read this book, with the encroaching darkness and cold, the time of witches and magic, of howling wind and wandering ghosts I d recommend it to anyone fascinated by stories of the Far North and of Viking exploration. Not only is this a wonderful book, it s a great example of what good historical fiction looks and reads like I would say that if you are a fan of Medieval European Viking Age history, this book will be right up your alley Bookend it with Donna Jo Napoli s Hush and you have yourself a nice little reading list that is the next best thing to time travel.My only complaint with this book is that Ms Elphinstone kept on calling the Icelandic Horses ponies Anyone who has ever been to Iceland knows that this is a major faux paus Outside of that, this book is an absolute gem that will have you living and breathing right alongside the intrepid Viking explorers and settlers of Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland Highly recommended. This wonderful, evocative novel tells the story of a remarkable woman In her youth, Gudrid was one of a small company of settlers who sailed west beyond the known world to the shores of Vinland, a country of grain, grapes and timber, with the ambition of setting up a traders camp there Now an old woman, she has turned her face east and made a pilgrimage from the borders of the world to its centre, in Rome, where she is invited to tell her life story to a young Icelandic monk so that it can be written down for the edification of the Church Gudrid s world is one where the boundary between the human and the spirit worlds is fluid, and where a voyage beyond the charted waters of the mortal realm might well take you into the domain of the gods Over the course of a long Roman summer she conjures up the ice and bleak beauty of her childhood and youth in Iceland and Greenland, and the community of brave men and women who lived there, culminating in the story of one of the greatest expeditions into the unknown in history.Elphinstone adds conviction to her story by steeping every page in a sensitivity to the cultural s and the folklore of 11th century Iceland This is a period when Christianity is still finding a foothold in these wild places, and Gudrid s world is one where the new Christ sits uneasily alongside the enduring traditions of Thor, Hel and the ghosts and demons whose unquiet souls roam the landscape It s eerie in parts, adventurous in others, but never less than captivating and Gudrid is an attractive and compelling narrator Highly recommended for anyone interested in early medieval Europe and fans of the sagas but also for those who simply enjoy fine writing A dignified, elegant treat of a book.For a longer review, please see my blog I felt this book had such promise but it didn t deliver I thought it would be enthralling than it was one woman s journeys in the Viking Age In Rome, an Icelandic priest at the behest of a cardinal, is transcribing the life s story of an old woman, Gudrid She has come there on a pilgrimage We read of her girlhood, two marriages, children, and widowhood both times, the customs of those settlers, and, I must admit, beautiful descriptions of Iceland and Greenland Most of the book was dull but it picked up where Gudrid describes her settling on Vinland and events during their stay The name had been bestowed because of the wild grapes found there from which wine was made The Norse finally left after they found they couldn t get along with the natives, called by them, skraelings wretched ones and after killings during a skirmish ensued The book was well written and based on the true account of a woman of those times who went to Vinland I didn t like the book switching back and forth from first person to third Gudrid tells her story, but goes off on so many tangents, her mind wanders, and it s not completely chronological Then the narration abruptly changes to third person, where it s as though a third person is commenting on what Gudrid has just told or is about to tell Gudrid s whole narration feels like a dialogue with the priest, only his words are left out That was confusing to me I m sorry I cashed in a gift certificate on this book. It appears that I m obsessed with historical fiction about Vikings Sadly, 99 out of hundred books in this teensy genre are bodice rippers, which don t interest me at all This one is no bodice ripper, and I liked it a lot The Sea Road is based on the true story of a woman named Gudrid, who was born in Iceland, lived near Eric the Red and Leif Ericson in Greenland for a while, and traveled as far as Labrador Markland and Newfoundland Vinland She spent most of her married life in Iceland, but traveled to Norway, and later, as an old lady, to Italy.The Vikings were so tough They lived in Greenland on little than buttermilk and seal meat They sailed insanely long distances through wild northern seas in small boats with almost nothing in the way of navigational equipment I find it so interesting that they lived in Greenland for something like 300 years, then almost completely disappeared, and that they made it all the way to Newfoundland.Plus, when they weren t exploring or making war, their lives were mostly those of subsistence farmers in pretty harsh circumstances, which is interesting, as well.The Sea Road tells the story of a people s conversion from paganism to Christianity, and how sometimes, the two coexisted, and it offers interesting things to say about marriage and all the different feelings that coexist in a long marriage.

About the Author: Margaret Elphinstone

Margaret Elphinstone is a Scottish novelist She studied at Queen s College in London and Durham University She was until recently, Professor of Writing in the Department of English Studies at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, now retired Her academic research areas are Scottish writers and the literature of Scotland s offshore islands.She did extensive study tours in Iceland, Greenland,

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