June 20, 2009

Take Me Away to Norway

Take Me Away

As a lover of books that take place in different cultures and are about different cultures, Take Me Away is a way to share this love with you, my readers and friends!

Each week I will feature a different country or culture (ex. Cherokee, Jewish, etc. that do not have a specific country per se) and list some books that can transport you there.

I am keeping a map of the countries we visit and a list of the specific cultures, which you can see at the bottom of this post. Here is a list of where we've been so far:
This week we are visiting the country of Norway.
Click on the titles of the books to go to Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com to read reviews and/or purchase the book.

Here is an easy to see map of Norway, which is on the left side of the peninsula, with Sweden on the right:
To learn more about Norway click here.

Hidden Falls by Carla Danzinger
When American Kristina (Kris) Kelly goes touring in the fjord region of Norway in summer 1995 with her beloved cousin Elsa Jenssen, a popular Norwegian journalist, she is seeking rest and revitalization after the painful breakup of her 20-year marriage. Instead, her trip turns into a nightmare when Elsa is found dead at the bottom of Hidden Falls. Elsa's questionable health, the slippery conditions on the trails, and testimony by hiking companions from whom Elsa separated, lead authorities to conclude that her death was accidental. Kris's gut feelings tell her otherwise; yet her first duty must be to return to Bergen, Elsa's hometown, and comfort Elsa's elderly father. When he, too, for reasons far different from her own, asserts that Elsa's death was not accidental, Kris begins a personal search for the truth. Elsa's close connections with the editor of the newspaper for which she worked, her opinionated columns, her private ghosts from the Nazi occupation of Norway in her youth and her post-war years in England, lead Kris on a rocky trail of discovery, danger, and romance, and into the throes of a clandestine plot and soul-searching questions about justice.

Don't Look Back (Inspector Sejer Series) by Karin Fossum

Don't Look Back heralds the arrival of an exotic new crime series featuring Inspector Sejer, a smart and enigmatic hero, tough but fair. The setting is a small, idyllic village at the foot of Norway's Kollen Mountain, where neighbors know neighbors and children play happily in the streets. But when the body of a teenage girl is found by the lake at the mountaintop, the town's tranquillity is shattered forever. Annie was strong, intelligent, and loved by everyone. What went so terribly wrong? Doggedly, yet subtly, Inspector Sejer uncovers layer upon layer of distrust and lies beneath the town's seemingly perfect facade. Critically acclaimed across Europe, Karin Fossum's Inspector Sejer novels are masterfully constructed, psychologically convincing, and compulsively readable, and are now available in the United States for the first time.

Norwegian Folktales (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library) by Peter Christen Asbjornsen
Collected here in a contemporary translation. With these tales we meet witches, trolls and ogres, sly foxes and mysterious bears, beautiful princesses and country lads turned heroes. Includes illustrations.

An Enemy of the People: A Play by Henrik Ibsen
Dr. Stockmann attempts to expose a water pollution scandal in his home town (in Southern Norway) which is about to establish itself as a spa. When his brother, the mayor, conspires with local politicians and the newspaper to suppress the story, Stockmann appeals to the public meeting - only to be shouted down and reviled as 'an enemy of the people'. Ibsen's explosive play reveals his distrust of politicians and the blindly held prejudices of the 'solid majority'.

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

During the World War II German occupation of Norway, children in a small Norwegian town prevented nine million dollars worth of gold from reaching their captors by smuggling it on their sleds in the form of bricks. This suspenseful tale of heroism is based on a true story that came to light when the gold landed in the United States for safe keeping. This daring plan was carried out by all the children in the town and showed the bravery and devotion to freedom these children valued. The story is well written and gives young children a perspective that most history books miss when covering World War II. This classic story can be used in a classroom setting to give another perspective on what life was like during World War II. This excellent novel is a "must read" for children interested in the war and the role that young people played during that time period.

Three Billy Goats Gruff by Paul Galdone

Three clever billy goats outwit a big ugly troll that lives under the bridge they must cross on their way up the mountain. This was a favorite book with my pre-k students. They even enjoyed acting it out, taking turns as goats and trolls.

Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
When it was first published in 1917, Growth of the Soil was immediately recognized as a masterpiece. Ninety years later it remains a transporting literary experience. In the story of Isak, who leaves his village to clear a homestead and raise a family amid the untilled tracts of the Norwegian back country, Knut Hamsun evokes the elemental bond between humans and the land. Newly translated by the acclaimed Hamsun scholar Sverre Lyngstad, Hamsun's novel is a work of preternatural calm, stern beauty, and biblical power-and the crowning achievement of one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Do you know of some books that take place in Norway that you want to share? Or do you want to share other thoughts? Please leave a note in the comments! And be sure to check back next week for a trip in books to the African country of Kenya!

The Take Me Away Map of Countries Visited:

create your own visited country map


  1. I don't know of any Norwegian writers--except Ibsen--but I do know of some great Norwegian painters. That's about it.

  2. These books sound good. Snow Treasures is definitely one I would like to read, especially as it is based on a true story. Don't Look Back looks good too.

  3. I could have sworn I read Snow Treasure as a child, but I see it's a recent book. There was a book very much like that when I was growing up that I just loved.

  4. What a great feature! Thanks for putting all this together and posting it!

  5. I read the same book Kathy (Bermuda onion)did. Can't remember the title but I remember the book. I even remember that it had a red cover!

    Love this feature.

  6. I certainly remember the Three Billy Goats Gruff from when I was a kid (young child, not small goat) and that is a loooong time ago. Thanks for mental trip around the world.

  7. How about winning a book for a reviews? At Diversity Rocks, you leave a link to a book that you've reviewed and you're entered in a monthly drawing. Check it out.

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  9. The most recent Norwegian writer I've read is Per Petterson. I should read some Knut Hamsun soon. Thanks for the reminder. Hunger is his most popular, but this one you posted sounds absolutely lovely, I want to read it!

  10. This is a interesting thing your doing and helpful too. It will be interesting to see all the different books and cultures out there. It also reminds me of Stephen Colbert's "better known district" either way, thanks for doing this.

  11. Great choice. I have read and can recommend:

    1.Hunger by Knut Hamsun, an outstanding book
    2.Out Stealing Horses and To Siberia by Per Petterson
    3.Sophie's World and Vita Brevis: A Letter to St Augustine by Jostein Gaarder
    4.The House With The Blind Glass Windows by Herbjorg Wassmo
    5.The Redbreast, The Devil's Star, and Nemesis by Jo Nesbo, three excellent mysteries

    I own Pan and Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun but can't remember which I've read, it was too many years ago. And I have Per Petterson's In The Wake, a recent acquisition, as yet unread. I should make that last one this week's goal. Happy reading.

  12. How cool to see that this weeks visit goes to Norway :D

    I have to mention Sigrid Undset's trilogy about Kristin Lavransdatter:
    The Wreath
    The Wife
    The Cross

  13. heidenkind- That's ok! Now you have some to check out. :)

    Scrap girl- I agree.

    bermudaonion and Beth F- You probably did read this book as a child. It was first published back in the 40s or 50s.

    rhapsodyinbooks- Thanks!

    Kaye- What? You weren't a goat when you were younger? haha

    Susan- I will check that out again, Susan. I had put together a similar challenge (21 Cultures) for myself before I knew of Diversity Rocks and so did not join up.

    Claire- Thanks for the recommendations!

    Jules- Thanks! I am happy you are enjoying these.

    Sandra- Thank you for the recommendations! You are the second to recommend Hunger. It must be a good book.

    Ladybug- Thanks for the recommendations! We have compiled quite the list here!


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