It seems that most people in the U.S. barely know a family history back more than two generations and even then the details are sketchy. Maybe because we are a relatively new country. There is nothing wrong with that, but I have an interest in the lives and struggles of people in the past. History has only become more important to me since I have lived through a little of it and have seen how big the changes are, yet human needs and behaviors are not very different than they have ever been.
I haven't had as much time to read as I would like in the last year, but I have been fortunate to read some really excellent work. Laxness' Salka Valka is a rare book in English, but my library was able to borrow one from the Big City Library. This is not the Laxness work to start with, but a great novel.
I also got a hold of The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley. This coming of age story mostly takes place in Gimli, Manitoba (about a day's drive from here) and Iceland. It has Grandmothers and an "interesting" aunt, family secrets and foibles, desperation and adventure and it took me two days to read because I had other obligations. It is Ms. Sunley's first novel and I hope she writes more. I could tell you much more, but you really should read it.
Fly Away Home is the book I just started. I am scheming to get blocks of undisturbed time to devour it. Maggie Myklebust is a bit younger than I (and much better looking!),comes from the same vicinity of the U.S., and has a lot of Norwegian connections. In fact, she lives there now. Some of my neighbors here on the Scandinavian Riviera (North Shore of Lake Superior) come from the same place in Norway that she does. Maggie's family, in different combinations, went back and forth across the ocean to the area where her family was from. She remembers some wonderful detail of those years and I can't wait to find out how she got to where she is now (life is a journey, isn't it?).
My father was Norwegian and his father, my bestefar, was born in Iceland. My Icelandic grandmother, Jakobina Jakobsdottir even wrote a short greeting to me when I was a baby. I just found it in my father's effects this year. It was like finding buried treasure. She was born in the late 1860's. My mother was British. She died in 1954 a few months after my brother was born, but her mother (my Nana) took care of us for a few years while my father recovered from his loss and financial burdens. Both of my parents came here from a Europe that had been fairly devastated by war. My father's house had been bombed and his mother, who had never been a picture of health (tuberculosis) died from the horrid living conditions of that era. Even my aunt in England still has a tattoo on her forearm from the concentration camps. America looked like a dream to them, but they never forgot where they came from.
This morning I listened to the end of Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite while driving along the North Shore to town and my job. The last part of the suite is Solveig's Sang. It usually makes me misty-eyed. This morning was no exception.