Bjartur of Summerhouses has one goal: total independence. After being a servant for 18 years, he finally obtains his own land, and while ever seeking the land’s improvements, Bjartur and his extreme self-reliance costs his family dearly. He mistreats his own wife and children, not overtly, but through his unwillingness to accept help of any kind from neighbors. His independence, his dog, and his sheep are of primary and utmost importance. But is it possible to be too independent? What happens to Bjartur when his own children demand independence from him?
Reading a book set in Iceland in January really set the mood for this story. The cold, the coffee, the sheep, and the stubbornness of one man against the world are what I will remember about this book. With themes of materialism, socialism, war, and politics, Independent People by Nobel laureate Halldor Laxness is more than relevant for today.
1934-35 , 482 pp.
Nobel prize-winning author