Nominated for the Young Readers’ Critics’ Prize 2017
On two reviewers’ Best of 2017 lists in Klassekampen
On an island in the south of Norway, there was once a Benedictine convent, Gimsøy. It was founded in the mid-12th century, in a time when pagan beliefs were still common despite the ongoing Christianisation. The founder of the convent, the crusader Dag Eilivsson, was the father of Baugeid Dagsdatter, who later became the abbess. The Icelandic saga writer Snorre Sturlasson spends half a sentence on her in his renowned Sagas of the Norwegian Kings.
Was Baugeid ambitious or pious, good-humoured or stern? Did she have cold hands or warm feet, thick blood or thin veins? What desires lay hidden beneath the daily chores by the loom and in the convent garden, which forces drove the nuns to prayer eight times a day, and what health rules were observed in the convent?
In prose that shifts between the hypnotic, the archaic and the clinical, Villanger makes the silence speak: the silence of the ruins of a burnt-down convent, a forgotten woman, a tremor. The result is a fascinating and multifaceted work of prose.