Happy Times in Norway
Publication Year: 2013
Happy Times in Norway is a moving and delicately humorous picture of Undset’s own blissful home life before her nation fell to the Nazi occupation. Captured here is the excitement of a Norwegian Christmas, the Seventeenth of May, and summer in the idyllic mountains, as well as the chaotic adventure of raising two energetic boys. With vivid detail and illuminating descriptions of the landscape, Happy Times in Norway is infused with the wish that those cherished days could come again.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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Part I: Merry Christmas
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"Potato-digging" vacation began with rain and ended with rain, and the boys were bored and cross. They could not find anything to do themselves, and nothing that Mother and Thea suggested was any fun. ...
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The next morning the weather was the same, except that the rain had thickened into sleet, but now and then a few wet, gray snow splotches fell to earth. It was, at least, snow. Later in the day, large soft flakes appeared, the garden turned white, and the tree branches began to bow under a burden of heavy, wet snow. ...
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The night before little Christmas Eve, Thea and Mother worked in the kitchen until long after midnight. The headcheeses and the pigs' feet had been stowed in the brine, the last cooky boxes were closed and carried up to the little storage closet, and Thea had set the sponge for bread and coffeecake. ...
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In Norway it is Christmas Eve that is the greatest and the most sacred time in all the year. To Anders and Hans, Christmas Eve started in the morning, when the tree was carried into the large parlor where the fireplace was and Thea brought all the boxes of Christmas tree trimmings down from the attic. ...
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It is the custom in Norway that on Christmas Day people stay quietly at home, or go out only to be with their closest relatives. Even the skiers who swarmed over all the roads and fields, beaming with delight over the first snow of the year, kept together in family groups. ...
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Thea had decorated the long breakfast table with sprigs of evergreen, candles, and flowers. It sagged under all the good Christmas food. And in the snow outside the door stood the bottles of beer, and the old brandy decanter from Great-grandfather's house. Godfather was very particular that the Christmas brandy should be the temperature of the snow. ...
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Every morning there was the same Jerusalem disturbance. It took time to get that herd of children to the breakfast table. And afterward, it took still more time to get them rigged out in their coats and caps and steered out the door. It was necessary to search out the least wet of their garments from all the things that were drying all over the house. ...
Part II: The Seventeenth of May
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"Winter-Spring" is the name people in Norway give to that odd season that begins in February. When day after day the sun beams down from a high and cloudless deep-blue sky and every morning the whole world is encrusted with glistening frost crystals—but later in the day all the eaves are dripping. ..
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The fourth day the sun came out and before evening all the birches were golden with tiny buds shaped like mouse ears. By next morning these buds had turned into tiny leaves and the trees stood there—green. Hans went with Mother when she went out to pick some of the first young birch leaves and white anemones for the Sunday dinner table. ...
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Mother was awakened by a fearful crash. Beyond the dark treetops the sky was beginning to turn yellow, and in the birch grove a pair of thrushes chattered their protest against the disturbances. It was not yet three. ...
Part III: Summer Vacation
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"Mother," then asked Anders, "Godfather wrote he and Uncle George are coming to meet me at Ringbu as soon as the Boy Scout jamboree is over. We're planning a three weeks' camping trip. Could I join you at the saeter afterwards?" ...
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The boys report cards could have been worse. They could have been much better too, of course. But both of them passed, and that was almost more than Mother had dared hope for. ...
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The odor of new-mown hay drifted in from all the meadows of the valley the afternoon that Mother and Hans drove up. Mowing machines clattered on every farm, and hayrakes jangled softly across the fields. The river flowed broad and full, flooding the fields in the bottoms— ...
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"Oh, mother, pick up these stitches that have been dropped. I pulled out one of Janna's needles . . . and, mother, may we borrow some thumbtacks?" ...
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It was getting on toward fall. One notices the coming of fall earlier in the mountains than in the valley. The leaves on the blueberry bushes had a red cast, and the branches were heavy with dark, ripe berries. And everywhere on the marshes shone the cloudberries. These were still hard as stone and lacquer red. ...
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There was not much for Mother and Anders to talk about these days. Every morning after breakfast he took his fishing outfit and went down to Tromsa. But his luck was not good. Sometimes he came home empty-handed, sometimes with one or two tiny trout in his pocket. Ingrid's cat got them. ...
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Little Signe's stay at Krekke Saeter turned out to be a great disappointment to Hans. She was not one bit impressed by the doll house. On the contrary, she made several rather unkind remarks about its past—a past that could not be concealed. ...
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One day Mrs. Hole came up to see her saeter and she was almost like a summer guest herself. For when a farmer engages a dairywoman for the summer, she takes full responsibility and has full authority over everything concerning the saeter, and it would be the peak of bad manners if the farmer's wife allowed herself to interfere in any of the dairywoman's work. ...
Preface to the 1942 Edition
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The two boys whose childhood joys and adversities I have told in this book were young men by that time. Tulla had died a year before. And, since nobody could have explained to her why all the good things and pleasures she was accustomed to had come to an end—why her dear flag could not fly over her home any more, ...
About the Author
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Sigrid Undset (1882-1949) was born in Kalundborg, Denmark. She is best known for her epic medieval trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter (1920—22), a masterpiece of historical fiction. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928 and two years before her death received Norway's highest honor, ...
Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013