Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir – The Greenhouse
Escaping the trauma of his mother’s recent and violent passing, Lobbi leaves Iceland for an idyllic life tending to the famous garden of a monastery in an undisclosed location, taking with him three offcuts of his mother’s rare Rosa Candida to plant among the roses there. He doesn’t leave much behind except for one night of misguided passion with a girl he barely knows, resulting in an infant daughter he has hardly seen. However, his escape is thwarted when the mother of his child turns up at the monastery with his baby daughter, asking him to take on the responsibility of her care. Auður Ava is on familiar ground here, as she presents us with atypical depictions of masculinity seen through self-sacrifice, responsibility and tenderness, but at its heart this is a simple and beautiful tale depicting the formation of a paternal bond.
Vilborg Davíðsdóttir – On the Cold Coast
This thoroughly researched historical novel takes place in 15th century Iceland: a turbulent time referred to as the English Century due to the presence of numerous English sailors and traders in the country. This caused escalating tension between the ruling elite, who were loyal to the Danish crown, and the English and their allies. Against this backdrop, we’re given the everyday trials of Ragnfríður and Thorkell, who were once betrothed, according to their families’ wishes; they separated after Ragnfríður, barely in her teens, conceived an illegitimate child by a shipwrecked English sailor. The two are reunited years later, when Thorkell returns to Iceland after many years abroad, and they find themselves haunted by their history and their once-mutual destiny, despite the differences in their current social statuses.
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