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FINDS/Norway - The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas

Thank you to all of you who introduced me to this book. Although a great book, a modern classic, I find it very difficult to review. It leaves so many questions unanswered, but maybe that is why it gives you the impression it is a story beyond life.


When her mother dies, eleven-year-old Unn goes to live with her aunt. At school she is keeping her distance although the class mates are eager let her into their community. Siss is the leader and feels rejected when she cannot draw Unn into her sphere. It all changes when Unn one day invites Siss over after school.



The meeting is somewhat mysterious. Two teenage girls discovering each other. Unn says she has a secret to share with Siss, but not now. Siss is not entirely comfortable, and after some time she goes home. Both girls feel revived after the meeting, although next morning Unn feels she cannot face Siss and decides to visit the Ice Palace. It is a frozen waterfall, that looks like a palace. She goes in and out of different ‘rooms’ and enters further into the palace, until she cannot go further.


The disappearance generates a general research for several days, without result. Siss was the last one who saw Unn and everyone is sure that she knows something. That Unn revealed a clue to her disappearance.


"It was only something I said ! "I don't think so. I can see you know something. What did Unn say ?” "I can't tell you.” "Why not ?" "Because it wasn't like that, she didn't say it ! And she didn't say a word about hiding."


Tarjei Vesaas was born in Telemark in Norway. He was ridden by guilt since he refused to take over the family farm. His youth was mostly spent in solitude where he was seeking comfort and solace in nature. His literary career spans over 50 years, writing about simple rural people exposed to some psychological drama. All these aspects are clearly visible in The Ice Palace. Beautiful prose and description of nature, and above all the ice palace. He takes you with him on a visible tour of the surrounding landscape in this story. A landscape where people has not yet taken over.


Although the novel does not give you any clear answers, you can feel the underlying tension of the two teenage girls, who is venturing towards a grown up world. Relationship, underlying sexual tension, secrets and maybe a hint of wanting to put a mark in the world. The drama and the beauty of the story makes this a magical read.


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This sounds intriguing. As you can imagine, we don't see a lot of the Scandi writers here. I'll keep an eye out for this one.

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