Dreaming of Iceland: The Lure of a Family Legend - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Dreaming of Iceland: The Lure of a Family Legend

Dreaming of Iceland: The Lure of a Family Legend

Published March 2, 2009

 Scottish television anchor Sally Magnusson asked her father, the Icelandic-Scottish translator and television personality Magnus Magnusson, to go with her on a trip to Iceland to visit the places his family came from (mostly around Akureyri and Húsavík). While not a work of genius, the book that resulted is short and easy to read, Sally Magnusson comes across as a friendly sort of person, and if you have a maiden great-aunt (especially in Britain) who has never been to Iceland but would like to read something about it, this might be the gift for her. And I gotta say one really good thing about this book: Sally got herself a damn fine proofreader. All the Icelandic is spelled absolutely right. There are no Sigridurs or Porbjorgs in this book. The Magnussons are not your average Icelandic family. Though born in Iceland, Magnus Magnusson grew up in Scotland where his father was the head of the SÍS export office in Edinburgh and later the Icelandic consul there. These are fine folk. They take a taxi from Keflavík to Reykjavík and their cousin built Hótel Borg. Sally and her dad are familiar to millions of British television viewers and they get the red-carpet treatment from everyone they meet. So this is kind of a celebrity confessional book, and one which will mean most to those who know Sally and Magnus from TV. It’s also a book about family history (someone else’s, of course), as well as an example of a rare genre: Icelandic diaspora literature. Sally, to her credit, is smart, and not a snob, and tries to ask critical questions about her Icelandic heritage and her family’s myths, though she doesn’t have room to go into much depth.

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