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Two 11-year old girls, Unn and Siss, meet. Unn is about to reveal a secret, one that leads to her death in a formation of ice caused by a large waterfall. Siss's struggle with her fidelity to the memory of a friend, the strange frozen world of the waterfall, and the description of Unn's fatal exploration of the ice palace are described in prose of a lyrical economy that ranks among the memorable achievements of modern literature.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780720611229
ISBN-10: 0720611229
Format: Paperback
(186mm x 125mm x 14mm)
Pages: 176
Imprint: Peter Owen Publishers
Publisher: Peter Owen Publishers
Publish Date: 14-Nov-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » First published in 1966, this novel won its reclusive author the prestigious Nordic Council Prize and now reappears in paperback. Set in the frozen north of Norway, in the depths of winter, it tells the story, such as it is, of two 11-year old girls, Unn and Siss, who meet at school one day. Unn is new to the area, a loner to whom Siss is instantly attracted. She arranges to visit Unn, who lives with her aunt following the death of her mother. In Unns bedroom, the two girls experience a mysterious connection, and Unn almost shares a secret with her new friend, only to change her mind at the last minute. The next day, embarassed by her strange behaviour, Unn skips school and goes to visit the Ice Palace, a frozen waterfall outside town, where she gets trapped and freezes to death. As the hunt for Unn goes on, Siss vows never to forget her friend, and becomes increasingly estranged from those around her. This is the literary equivalent of a Bergman or Bresson movie - cool, starkly beautiful and forever hinting at a cathartic ending that (unlike Bresson) never comes. There is no story to speak of, no logic to what happens. It has been described as a prose poem, and Vesaas certainly loves the land he lived and died in. This is a hymn to the cold, the snow and ice and rime of Norway in winter. Mysterious, at times portentous (but never pretentious) it thwarts all attempts to understand its own, peculiar logic. We never learn what Unns secret was - there are the merest hints of a slowly awakening sexuality, but these remain tantalisingly vague, almost throwaway, and the over-riding mood, captured in terse but utterly naturalistic dialogue, is one of innocence and confusion. Though not perhaps to everyones tastes, this remains an utterly singular experience. (Kirkus UK)

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