Posts with the category ‘Norwegian History’


Nora and the Shadow of Prostitution

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 A Doll’s House, I did months of research on Norway in the 1880’s so that I could keep the book rooted in Ibsen’s world. And what a different world it was, particularly for… 


Writing Historical Fiction: Challenges and Surprises

Last Sunday I was supposed to be giving a talk at the Kensington, Maryland, Day of the Book Festival. As a featured author, I planned to talk about the challenges and surprises of writing historical fiction. Then came the coronavirus, and it was all cancelled. But if I can’t stand on a stage, I can still share my ideas about researching and crafting a story set in a different time. For me, the greatest joy of writing historical fiction is that it lets you avoid writing, for days and weeks at a time. Any excuse to research another question –… 


The Julenisse

The Julenisse In my novel Searching for Nora, there’s a figure known as a nisse. Nisse are mythological creatures from Nordic folklore popular in Norwegian traditions, particularly around Christmas and the winter solstice. They are little people, between six inches to three feet tall (depending on whom you ask) and they usually help a family tend a farm or house. They are what most Americans would call gnomes, often pictured in breeches and boots, with a colored jacket cinched by a belt, and wearing a tall pointed cap. Male nisse have long white beards, like little old men, and big… 


Channeling Ibsen

The very first word of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, the play my book is built upon, is “hide.” Nora Helmer, the heroine, is talking about hiding the Christmas tree from the children. But that one word opens a door to how she prevaricates, shades the truth and masquerades as a silly, incompetent wife. Indeed, as the play unspools, it’s clear that all the main characters are hiding things from each other. This gap between appearance and what is actually true grows with each act, and finally splits the Helmer’s marriage apart. The entire disaster starts with that single command,… 


Solvi’s Story: The Shadow of WWI

My novel Searching for Nora has two story lines: one about what happens to Nora Helmer, the character from Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, and the other about a young university student in Norway right after the end of World War I. Nora’s story is set mostly in the 1880s, but Solvi’s story begins in 1918, nearly 40 years later. I did this for several reasons. I have long been fascinated by the generation of women who came of age during the Great War, a generation marked by an explosion of opportunity for women in nearly every part of life…. 


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