Monday 27 December 2021

The Wild Orchid - Sigrid Undset

The Wild Orchid
ISBN 9781949899924
eSIBN 9781950970605

First I must state I had high expectations for this book. The works of Sigrid Undset have been recommended to me several times and from various sources. And the Catholic Book Club on Goodreads was reading it. When I began the book I had several from Undest on my wish list or to be read pile. After this one I am not sure I will ever get to them. At best my feelings while reading this was underwhelmed. If we had not been reading it for the book club it would have ended up on my ‘did not finish pile’.

Two passages did stick out to me:

““Pray for?” Gotaas’s look was empty and stupid. “One doesn’t exactly pray for anything in particular—well, of course—” he drawled, and said no more. “I mean, for instance, you might pray for things you want—things you wish God to do for yourself or your family.” “Oh, I see. Supplications. Yes, I do that too—morning and evening— when I’ve finished with my morning prayer or evening prayer, then I do sometimes pray to God about my own affairs and such like—” “Then do you Catholics say your prayers simply for the sake of praying, is that it?” “Simply for the sake of praying—how do you mean?” Gotaas looked perfectly idiotic. “Well, what else should one pray for? Except of course sometimes, when one prays because of something one wants to obtain. But generally one prays for the sake of praying. It’s the same thing when you’re with ordinary people just—as a rule you’re with them for the sake of having their company, because you like them and think it’s cheerful to have them to talk to.””


“If this was the truth, then the whole of life was inconceivably more wonderful and dangerous and rich, so unspeakably more serious and valuable than he had ever dreamt. He had a glimpse of paths which led out into a darkness beyond his imagining, and forward into a light that he scarcely dared to divine.”

I typically read a novel in a day or two. This one was almost 2 weeks and it was work. Close to a dozen times I thought about throwing in the towel on this one. I found it slow and plodding. I did not find much redeemable or engaging about almost all of the characters. I found the characters flat at best. And The story just seemed to drag and drag and drag.  I think if the book club does the continuation of the story, The Burning Bush, I might just have to skip it.

The most redeeming aspect was finding out the story is loosely autobiographical. Set a decade before her own conversion. If I had known that I may have appreciated the story more. 

I really appreciate the work of Cluny Media, they are trying to restore Catholic books, bringing them back into print in wonderful physical editions and for a few eBooks. They are excellent editions. 

Again my overall rating is underwhelmed! It is considered a classic in Catholic fiction, and the author receives rave reviews, But I would not personally recommend it.  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Sigrid Undset:
Gunnar's Daughter
Catherine of Siena
Marta Oulie
Ida Elisabeth
Happy Times in Norway
Sigurd and His Brave Companions
Madame Dorthea
Stages on the Road
The Unknown Sigrid Undset: Jenny and Other Works
Return to the Future

Kristin Lavransdatter Series:
The Wreath 
The Wife
The Cross
Kristin Lavransdatter (Complete)

The Master of Hestviken Series:
The Axe
The Snake Pit
In the Wilderness
The Son Avenger

The Winding Road Series:
The Burning Bush

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