Nora and the Shadow of Prostitution

Norwegian history, Christian Krohg, Searching for Nora

When Nora Helmer – the heroine of Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House – walks out on her difficult husband, most modern audiences respond with applause. The moment feels like a leap of liberation, the first step toward a better life. But it turns out that the audiences of Ibsen’s day would have responded quite differently. As I was working on Searching for Nora, my sequel to Doll’s House, I did months of research on Norway in the 1880s so that I could keep the book rooted in Ibsen’s world. And what a different world it was, particularly for women…. 

National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo, Novel Writing, Bookclubs, Norwegian-Americans, Dolls House, Henrik Ibsen, Great Reads, Author's Desk

When I’m out talking about my book Searching for Nora, the question I get the most is: how long did it take you to write this? People asking me are usually holding the printed version, a hefty, 400-pager. When I tell them it was a twelve-year effort, they shake their heads sympathetically. Wow. Twelve years, locked in my office, toiling away. The truth is, I spent some of that time on book-related projects other than writing – like finding a new agent and sending the book out to small publishers. I also spent time skiing and kayaking, traveling to China… 

Five Surprising Things I Learned about Norway

In the spring of 2008, my husband Charlie and I traveled to Norway so that I could better understand the country and interview historians and scholars as research for my book Searching for Nora: After the Doll’s House. My historical novel is a sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s iconic play A Doll’s House, and I was interested in learning more about Ibsen’s day and the conditions that sent so many Norwegians of that period heading to America. I was also interested in seeing Norway and its people – what the countryside looked like, how the light fell, how the Norwegians carried… 

Laura Kieler: Ibsen’s Nora

Portrait of woman Henrik Ibsen based Nora Helmer on

Ever since I first read Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, I’ve been fascinated by the character Nora Helmer. There’s something so real and immediate about her, it’s uncanny. She’s beautiful, warm-hearted and charming, but also manipulative and vain. She appears flighty and dithering, then in the next moment she’s secretly solving family problems. She’s so complex, so layered, it’s as if Ibsen knew someone like Nora and was trying to pin her to the page. In fact, he did know someone like Nora – a charming and dynamic young Norwegian named Laura Petersen. He met her eight years before… 

The Magic of Gift-Giving

Scandinavian, Christmas, books, chocolate, norwegian-Americans, Dolls House, Nora Helmer

In my novel Searching for Nora: After the Doll’s House, my heroine Nora Helmer ends up spending a winter on the harsh Minnesota prairie helping care for a family of Norwegian immigrants. They settle on a very poor farm, and struggle to gather hay and make improvements before the snow comes. By Christmas, the family is facing its first holiday without their mother, who died just as they started their immigration journey in the spring. There are few stores nearby and even fewer people. It’s a long way from Nora’s former cozy apartment in Kristiania with a Christmas tree lit…