The Bell in the Lake
"Love, suspense, nature and superstition are woven together in this powerful novel" MAJA LUNDE, author of The History of Bees
"An exquisitely atmospheric novel . . . The Bell in the Lake does what fiction promises: to steal you away to another world and ask you, if unfairly, to leave a little of your heart behind" DEREK B. MILLER, author of Norwegian by Night
"Lyrical, melancholy and with beautifully drawn characters, this pitches old beliefs against new ways with a haunting delicacy that rings true." DAILY MAIL
"Mytting uses the love story to explore the clash between tradition and modernity" THE TIMES (Historical Fiction Book of the Month)
The first in a rich historical trilogy that draws on legend, by a literary craftsman and the author of The Sixteen Trees of the Somme
Norway, 1880. Winter is hard in Butangen, a village secluded at the end of a valley. The lake has frozen, and for months the ground is too hard to bury the dead. Astrid Hekne dreams of a life beyond all this, beyond marriage, children, and working the land to the end of her days. Then Pastor Kai Schweigaard takes over the small parish, with its 700-year-old stave church carved with pagan deities. The two bells in the tower were forged by Astrid's forefather in the sixteenth century, in memory of conjoined twins Halfrid and Gunhild Hekne. They are said to hold supernatural powers.
The villagers are wary of the pastor and his resolve to do away with their centuries-old traditions, though Astrid also finds herself drawn to him. And then a stranger arrives from Dresden, with grand plans for the church itself. For headstrong Astrid this may be a provocation too far.
Talented architecture student Gerhard Schönauer is an improbable figure in this rugged community. Astrid has never met anyone like him; he seems so different, so sensitive. She finds that she must make a choice: for her homeland and the pastor, or for an uncertain future in Germany.
Then the bells begin to ring . . .
"Rich, sinuous prose . . . a beautiful example of modern Norwegian folklore" GUARDIAN
Translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin