The Tricking of Freya - Christina Sunley

Book: The Tricking of Freya
Author: Christina Sunley (click author's name to view their webpage)
Publisher: Picador
344 pages
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Tricking of Freya is the story of a young woman named Freya Morris who grew up traveling to visit family in Gimli, Manitoba and being told stories of her roots in Iceland. Her Aunt Birdie adores her and takes Freya under her wing whenever she visits Gimli--teaching her Icelandic and Norse mythology. However, due to Birdie's erratic behavior, the family's relationship with her is complicated and lends itself to mystery. It is this mystery that eventually sends Freya to Iceland to learn more about Birdie, the rest of the family, and Iceland.

Hallgrímskirkja by aevarg (Taken from
Although I have never been to Iceland, I have been to Scandinavia once. Although this book wasn't written yet, I wish I had read something like this before I went. The story is simply beautiful. Freya's journey is one of self-discovery which I enjoy being a descendant of somewhat recent immigrants myself. I have heard some stories about my family's history so I really enjoyed Freya's journey to Canada and Iceland to discover more about herself. There were little things like the references to pönnökokur and vínerterta that made me want to try Icelandic food, short tellings of Norse mythology that made me want to read more complete versions of the stories, and descriptions of both Gimli and Iceland that made me want to visit both places. I even sat and read Christina Sunley's blog about her journey to Iceland and looked up pictures of some of the places mentioned in the book. It made the book even more beautiful to read her experience and look at the pictures she took while in Iceland. I also enjoyed reading her interview at the end of the book because it brought to life just how wonderful the Icelandic people seem to be.

Miss Sunley's writing was beautiful. Birdie was a difficult character whose mental illness made it difficult to like her, but I loved her at the same time. She gave Freya her Icelandic identity which was invaluable but was also responsible for some less admirable outcomes in Freya's life. The book really does explain the toll mental illness can take on a family in ways that were sometimes quite raw to read. I did enjoy reading about it though because it gives a fair picture of what it must be like to love someone that can hurt you so deeply (even without mental illness, that is part of loving someone--we love every part of them even if we don't like some things about them). This aspect of the book was what impacted me most, and I think it's definitely something that is invaluable to read for those people who have mental illness that runs in their family. The book told this aspect of the story in such a dignified way that it really spoke to me.

I will admit that I figured out the mystery in the book about 2/3 of the way into it, but it didn't make me like it any less. The book was more about Freya's journey of self-discovery as an American of Icelandic descent, and her acceptance of who she was. The essence of the book was her growth as a person from childhood to adulthood, and how she resolved her past in her own mind. It was simply a beautiful telling of a woman who finds out who she really is in life as she processes all the moments of her life.

Links of Interest
Christina Sunley's Book Tour in Iceland Blog (beautiful pictures included with her story)
Amy from Amy Reads review of The Tricking of Freya
Bibliophile's Icelandic Cooking, Recipes, and Food blog (I looked up some of the foods mentioned in the book and found her blog--she is from Rekjavik so it's real, authentic Icelandic food! How exciting!)

*Notice of disclosure: I received this book for review from Terra Communications.


Anonymous said...

I want to go to Iceland really bad. Supposedly they have some INCREDIBLE waterfalls which makes my photographically-minded-self's mouth water.

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I must admit, stories set in interesting locales such as Iceland really do intrigue me. This sounds like an interesting story -- might pick it up and will let you know thoughts afterward!

Carin B. said...

@Sarah - Oh definitely check out the link to Christina Sunley's blog. She has some really cool photos on it. Norway also has some really amazing scenery and waterfalls.

@Coffee and a Book Chick - I really enjoyed it. Amy at Amy Reads also enjoyed it, but her review was quite different from mine so I wanted to post a link to it. It's really well done and the language of the book is really beautiful.

Amy said...

Thank you very much for the link! I'm really glad you liked the book. I don't know WHY and how I didn't catch on sooner, but ah well.

Carin B. said...

@Amy - I really liked your review. I don't think it matters about the mystery because the story was so good. I just want to try some of that fantastic sounding Icelandic food now.

Julie said...

Yay! I've been waiting to read your review of this one. I need to get my hands on a copy ASAP.

Carin B. said...

@Julie - I believe you just made my day! I didn't realize anyone waited for my review posts. *basks in the glory and engages in MAJOR self-indulgence*. OK...back to the book--I really enjoyed it. I took it a little slow to be honest because it's one of those that I felt I needed to savor. I think it took me two weeks to read it. Let me know what you think when you read it! :)

Anonymous said...

Great review, Carin. It's obvious you loved this book a lot! I also love stories about Iceland and Scandinavia in general.

Independent People by Haldor Laxness is set in Iceland (as are most/all of his books) which is really dark and miserable - but great!

Two of my favorite books are Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg (modern story taking place in Denmark and Greenland) and The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley. The latter takes place in the year 966 or so when Icelanders settle on Greenland. Maybe you'll like those too.

Carin B. said...

@leeswammes - I did enjoy it quite a bit! I know you like Scandinavia too so I hope you'll enjoy the book as well. I will have to look into Independent People for sure. I have read Smilla's Sense of Snow (that's the title in the U.S.) and I remember liking it, but it was quite some time ago. I also remember Juliette Binoche in the film I think and I really like her. I will also put The Greenlanders in my TBR on Shelfari. I have to admit that I typically read more self-discovery-ish books about my own ethnic background so reading about something so foreign to me took a few pages to get into, but I really liked it. I liked challenging my thought process for cultural influences on immigrants and descendants of immigrants. I'm not sure if that makes sense or not (I'm still in a stuffed up stupor in my head). Can't wait to see what you think about the book. :)

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