Book nineteen


Reply to a letter from Helga

Bergsveinn Birgisson



A quirky little book written in the form of a (long) letter from an old farmer in a remote Icelandic village to the now deceased woman he had a love affair with decades earlier.


It is a retrospective of his life, a mea culpa for the choices he made and a final summation of his actions and works from the vantage point of his 90 plus years.


There is regret and resignation in his voice that sometimes quivers and cracks as he relives the past, the life he lived and the life he could have lived. The emotions must have been bottled up in him for decades as they now stumble forth, sometimes agonizingly detailed in their minutia at other times beautifully poetic in the description of the landscape and his lover, Helga.


Helga was a beautiful Nordic woman, full of life’s energy, determined to live on her own terms and leave her native village for a bigger and better life in Reykjavik. He was a man rooted in tradition, burdened with carrying on the farm life that generations of his family before him had started.


And there were sheep. Lots of sheep. Honestly, I had no problem with the sheep as the narrator prattled on about breeding stock, health issues and competitions…until one awful, horrible sheep related scene near the end of the book that brought nothing of value to the story whatsoever and almost ruined the whole book for me.


It is a very well written book as I have said, and I enjoyed the story I am just not giving it an all out endorsement. It’s not a long read, only about 125 pages which works in its favor as it can be at times a bit slow moving.


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