Bergsveinn Birgisson: Svar við bréfi Helgu (Reply to a Letter from Helga)


The latest addition to my website is Bergsveinn Birgisson‘s Svar við bréfi Helgu (Reply to a Letter from Helga). This novel take the form of a letter, written by Bjarni Gíslason, an Icelandic farmer, written to the love of his life in reply to a letter that she had written to him many years ago, though she and the other key players are all dead. Bjarni’s wife, Unnur, was not a passionate or romantic woman. After an operation to remove a tumour, she not not only could not have children, she could not have sex. Initially, Bjarni more or less accepts this, though Unnur and the local gossips all assume that he is having an affair with Helga, from the neighbouring farm, as Helga’s husband, Hallgrímur is known to be unfaithful to his wife. However, Bjarni is devoted to his farm, to his way of life, to the Icelandic countryside and to his agricultural cooperative and this, rather than Helga, keeps him busy. However, one day, while visiting Helga to disinfect her sheep, he does succumb and they start an affair When she becomes pregnant, she presents him with an ultimatum – leave Unnur and move with her to Reykjavik, where they will surely find work on the US bases, or the affair is over and she will say that the child is Hallgrímur’s. Bjarni is torn but he cannot leave his beloved farm and countryside, so he carries on his life, though spying on Helga and Hulda, her daughter. When she later does divorce Hallgrímur and moves to Reykjavik, she writes to him, asking him to join her. The book is his reply to her, many years later and after her death. While a well-written story about an impossible love, it is also a paean to the beauties of Iceland and its countryside, which we see through the eyes of Bjarni. Whether you have visited Iceland or not, you will not fail to appreciate it through his eyes.

This Post Has 2 Comments

    1. tmn

      Glad you enjoy it and thanks for reading.

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