Reviews > Published on October 25th, 2016

Bookshots: 'Land of Love and Ruins' by Oddny Eir

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Title:

Land of Love and Ruins

Who Wrote It:

A quiet and intriguing book that contemplates the connections between people and their environments, posing broad questions that should resonate with readers from very different backgrounds.

Oddný Eir, translated by Philip Roughton

Plot in a Box:

A dream about an old Viking woman on a pilgrimage motivates a writer to start on a quest to explore the ruins of the homes of her ancestors.

Invent a new title for this book:

Moss On The Heart

Read this if you like(d):

Björk, just in general.

Meet the book's lead(s):

Birdy, a 30-something Icelandic writer.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Again...probably Björk.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Yes, I think I would. Iceland sounds less chaotic than the U.S. as I'm writing this, a fortnight before Election Day.

What was your favorite sentence?

Then I saw a wall covered with ivy, which probably inspired my passion for it, taking over from my rose-passion. I wondered how the strands crawled up along the continent, across all borders, over the bullet wounds on buildings and the ax scars on trees.

The Verdict:

The narrator of this EU Prize for Literature-winning novel centers around an Icelandic poet nicknamed Birdy. Told in the form of diary entries, much of the content regards her reflections on man's interactions with the natural world. The narrator rambles through Iceland while camping and hiking, making detours to England and France.

Land of Love and Ruins isn't an easy title to create a clean summary of. It's ambient and elusive, tackling questions that have few definitive answers. Birdy roams and ponders, visiting ancient villages and gravesites; places with strong ties to history. She considers her relationships with her brother (an archaeologist), and her new lover (an ornithologist). While I'm not a tremendous fan of the diary format in fiction, it works fairly well here in such a reflective and inward-seeking project.

Overall, Land of Love and Ruins is a quiet and intriguing book that contemplates the connections between people and their environments, posing broad questions that should resonate with readers from very different backgrounds.

About the author

Leah Dearborn is a Boston-based writer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in international relations from UMass Boston. She started writing for LitReactor in 2013 while paying her way through journalism school and hopping between bookstore jobs (R.I.P. Borders). In the years since, she’s written articles about everything from colonial poisoning plots to city council plans for using owls as pest control. If it’s a little strange, she’s probably interested.

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