Which makes me wonder: how much of an issue is housekeeping in a marriage? Not just sweeping the floor and doing laundry, although it includes that; but, how do we reconcile different approaches, different mindsets to work and leisure?
In the first section, The Fruit of Sin, Kristin struggles with the guilt of her sexual immorality and disloyalty to her parents. She embarks on a solitary pilgrimage, walking twenty miles by herself to the Archbishop, who can give her absolution. When she arrives at the cathedral she ponders the architecture.
In a parallel scene her husband takes a risky, solitary trip on foot to Lavran’s estate and seeks to make peace as well as make amends with his father and mother-in-law. We see in Erlend a man who can charm and persuade, a fearless warrior who leads men into battle, but a man who finally lacks self-control. Undset does such a good job of showing strengths and weaknesses: in Erlend, in Kristin, and in their marriage.
The rest of this book is not driven by plot as much as character development. Kristin and Erlend have seven sons. As Kristin’s marriage struggles wax and wane, the love between her father and mother becomes deeper and more secure.
And she tried to shut out from her mind all care for things wherein she could take no hand. She would only think of those matters in which she could do some good by her carefulness. All the rest she must leave in God’s hand. (p.167)
For in her soul sin still had its being, as the root-tissue of the weeds is inwoven in the soil. It flowered and flamed and scented the air no longer, but ’twas still there in the soil, bleached, but strong and full of life. (p. 281)
I haven’t finished the trilogy yet and I’m ready to begin re-reading it. I have read the older Charles Archer translation. Next time I’ll read Tiina Nunnally’s 1997 translation. There are other Sigrid Undset books on my list. Another new author to explore. Sigh. Life is good.