Read The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley Online


A young woman obsessed with uncovering a family secret is drawn into the strange and magical history, language and landscape of Iceland.  Freya Morris grows up in a typical American suburb – but every summer, she enters another realm entirely when she visits her relatives in Gimli, a tiny village in Canada settled by Icelandic immigrants. Here she falls under the spell ofA young woman obsessed with uncovering a family secret is drawn into the strange and magical history, language and landscape of Iceland. Freya Morris grows up in a typical American suburb – but every summer, she enters another realm entirely when she visits her relatives in Gimli, a tiny village in Canada settled by Icelandic immigrants. Here she falls under the spell of her troubled but charming aunt Birdie, who thrills her with stories of exotic Norse goddesses, moody Viking bards, and the life of her late grandfather, the most famous poet of "New Iceland." But when Birdie tricks Freya into a terrifying scandal, Freya turns her back on everything Icelandic and anything that reminds her of the past. She is living an anonymous, bleak existence in Manhattan when she finally returns to Gimli for the first time in two decades – and stumbles upon a long concealed family secret. As Freya becomes increasingly obsessed with unraveling her family’s tangled story, she finds herself delving into the very memories she has worked so hard to forget. When the clues dry up in Gimli, Freya journeys to Iceland itself. On this rugged island of vast lava fields and immense glaciers, Freya’s quest comes to its unsettling conclusion. A beautifully-written debut novel that deftly weaves together Iceland’s distinctive history, ancient mythology, reverence for language, and passion for genealogy, The Tricking of Freya is a powerful exploration of kinship, loss and redemption....

Title : The Tricking of Freya
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312378776
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 344 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Tricking of Freya Reviews

  • Cheryl
    2019-03-24 02:49

    Every once in awhile a book comes along that just takes my breath away. I can't explain why and the ones on my short list (like Sunlight in a Beautiful Garden, Moby Dick or The Time Traveler's Wife) don't appear to have any similarities to each other at all, except perhaps that in all cases, the authors' command of the written word shows what a truly beautiful language English can be in the right hands.From the the first paragraph until I closed the cover last night I was swept away by this lyrical, emotional, and poetic tale. The characters seemed like family and the descriptions of place, photographic. The writing is beautiful and eloquent with a fluidity to it that makes the story move from beginning to end with an effortlessness that belies how truly difficult it is to write well. Freya, conflicted by her past and the often misinterpreted memories of childhood, is stuck in her future and struggles to understand and come to terms with herself, her family with all of their dysfunction, peculiarities and history, as well as their love for each other. It is also a tale of how much history and place both influence and shape our lives and character. It is never a case of nature OR nurture - it is always a case of nature AND nurture.If I had to find fault it would be that, in some ways, the ending seemed a bit rushed. But, most likely, that was not really the case - it was just me, sad that this wonderful story was over.

  • Chrissie
    2019-03-05 03:43

    What do I think the book is about? A multigenerational saga filled with Icelandic myths, legends, culture and landscapes. Good writing. Exploration of family secret.My guess was correct! And the book was very good, in fact worth four stars. I loved learning about Iceland and the Icelandic immigrants that settled in Manitoba, Canada. ******************************************The above is still correct. I have read 43% .In addition to that above the story is a coming of age novel. It is light reading, but at its core there is a sad note. There is humor. I know some sentnces could be criticized as being unrealistic, but I do not care brcause I simply find them humorous. There is a wealthy guy that works for Shell.... and Freya thinks that perhaps the trade of rare shells could make one wealthy in Iceland. Rather stupid, but still funny. The physical description of Iceland has me so curious that I find myself looking on the web to see the places spoken of. There are glaciers and lava caves and volcanoes and waterfalls. So you learn about Iceland, not only the significance of her poets, but also the physical terrain and history. All of this is tied up in the story of one large family. And then ther is this crazy aunt, whom I find not that crazy but just a bit strong minded. Determined. Set on doing things her way. So what am I getting? History and culture, some crazy characters and a fun, light story. ******************************************Will the above be correct? I have read 20%, into the sixth chapter. None of the above as yet been proven false. I am learning about Manitoba and Iceland . I enjoy the Norse myths and discussion of kennings. But most of all I think the author has a knack for drawing people. I do not see the child as naughty; I see Freya as a 7 year old with lot of curiosity, imagination and energy. I enjoy viewing the world through her eyes. I find myself smiling. I see sisters who both hate and love each other. I see a real family. So one sister is a crazy aunt, but I empathize with her too. I feel for all ot them in this messy family. Aren't most families rather messy, I am enjoying my time spent with this book. What a difference from the last book, where I kept waiting and waiting for something to move me. When I am really quiet reading a book, it usually means I am fighting to find something enjoyable. When I like the book, I want to share my enjoyment immediately. That is why I am sharing this with you now. I hope the book remains good!

  • Kiri
    2019-02-23 03:58

    Wow. This book made me want to sign up for a writing class or go back in time and go to a college with a great writing program... Altough it is a first novel by the author she is clearly a superb writer (and in fact teaches writing in San Francisco(?)). Brilliant. The flow of the words, the character of the Icelandic culture that permeates and breathes through this novel, the portrayal of bipolar disorder that shows but does not tell us what's going on, the plotting and the unfolding and the very realness of the difficult relationships between generations... All these things are done so very well.

  • Kristianne
    2019-03-05 02:44

    There is a story in the Icelandic poetic cannon about the tricking of Gylfi. Gylfi, the king, goes to challenge the Aesir (the clan of the gods) and discover the source of their power. He approaches Odin, who appears as a trinity on three thrones, and challenges him with a feat of wits wherein he peppers the tri-god with questions about the beginning and the end of the world. Odin, of course, easily answers all the inquiries and Gylfi fears for his life. Finally, he manages to stump Odin. Immediately, the grand palace and the thrones and the Odin trinity disappear, leaving Gylfi alone on the open hillside. The privilege of winning the challenge is tricked from him and he is forced to trudge home alone without glory.Christina Sunley's Freya is likewise tricked but the cosmogony she is deciphering is her own. The portentous secrets her family have maintained send her on a mad pilgrimage through her ancestral Icelandic home. Sunley creates an epic of her own by weaving the mystery of family myth with a rousing travelogue.

  • Dee
    2019-03-10 05:56

    Not as tightly woven as most mysteries, but then probably not meant to be a mystery. I had figured out the main plot "mystery" by a third of the way through. And the heroine really plays the shame-filled orphan card way too much. The description of Birdie, Freya's mother, and her descent into psychotic bipolar disordr appeared on target, and very hard to bear, as it was very painful. Told from the first-person memories of the young person forced to accompany her, made the account even more poignant.A fun read, because of all the Icelandic history, language and poetry. The descriptions of Iceland make me want to go there immediately. Sounds magical! But probably a country for the young, as the weather sounds really intimidating.

  • Candace
    2019-02-22 05:43

    After a spate of middling reads, I am delighted with the start of this novel. Christina Sunley's astute observance of children reminds me of Anne-Marie MacDonald. Good writing, interesting setting (an Icelandic settlement in Canada) . . . sigh, I'm happy.Now that I have finished "The Tricking of Freya," I highly recommend it. The promising opening played out into an involving read that kept me up late and made me want this novel to be a hit so that Sunley will write more. The publisher has an ambitious marketing plan in place, and this is definitely the sort of book that booksellers will love to hand sell. I've been thinking about this book all day.

  • Diana
    2019-03-06 04:53

    Great novel. Challenging at times, I had to reread a few parts. I figured out the ending way before we were told which took away a little bit. Topic of mental illness is important. It’s very atmospheric. Iceland and the people who live there seem wonderful and this book just added to my desire to go there :)

  • Eric
    2019-03-03 09:02

    Freya Morris discovers a bare hint of a family secret, a secret she sets out to unravel. On the way, we meet her family of Icelandic expatriates living in Gimli, Manitoba (the Canadian New Iceland), her manic depressive aunt, her long-suffering mother and grandmother, and several loyal family friends. Mix this surface story with reflections on language, goddesses, episodes from the famous Icelandic sagas (best represented by the poet-warrior Egil Skallagrimson), and above all the landscapes of Gimli and Iceland, and you have an exciting, hard-to-put-down first novel.This is a book about many things; but fundamentally it is about the landscapes and places we inhabit - whether within or outside of ourselves - and how we view and percieve them. We may think we see what is right in front of us - how can we not know our own lives and families? - but we always view these landscapes through a thick fog. The fog may be a literal one created by volcanic ash or by an impending snowstorm; but most often we find ourselves struggling with our perceptions, with the volcanos and storms in our selves. Such complex shifts between our perceptions, the snow, darkness, and light of the places where we live, and the mediating filters of such landscapes as our bodies, our illnesses, and our languages, utlimately form our identities, our family histories, and our communities. In short, our shared sagas. But how much of the structure is real and how much is a deception or a trick? This is the question we face on any journey through a secret.The landscape of this book can be viewed in several ways: an engaging family saga, a brilliant portrait of mental illness, or a long-hidden mystery to be solved. Any way you choose to take it, Christina Sunley has written a stunning, well researched, and especially well-written exploration of our minds, our families, and our stories.

  • Ariadne
    2019-02-24 03:36

    If my reading tastes were just a bit different this would be a 5 star read, so don't let my 3 star rating dissuade you. I picked up this book for the sole reason that I was going on a trip to Iceland, and I wanted to immerse myself in the place a little before going. In this the book was partially successful - the parts about Iceland really captured the place. But this book is less about Iceland than it is about relationships, people, and what makes them tick. That's not a bad thing at all, in fact it's the mark of an excellent book, but it wasn't precisely what I was in the mood for.Sunley's writing is absolutely gorgeous. Her prose is top notch, and I'm surprised she hasn't gotten more attention. Her way with words, and ability to really create these places and people was excellent. The characters she crafted, particularly Freya and Birdie, came to life in such a way they felt real. A large part of this book, for me, centered around mental illness, and the subject was handled deftly - I kept thinking of a member of my own family as I read, because Sunley captured that particular illness so accurately. In fact, that might have been simultaneous what kept me reading, as well as what made me weary as I read. These broken people were so familiar to me that I couldn't help care what happened to them, but also be somewhat tired as they spun out of control, just as I am when my loved ones do so.After I finished this book I flew to Iceland and found myself driving around the island. As I did so I saw many of the places Sunley wrote about, and it made them feel even more special. It gave me an anchor point for my travels. I'm glad I read this book, even though I was hoping for more mythology and less family drama. If you want to read an exceptionally well written story about broken people trying to discover the truth of themselves you won't go wrong here.

  • Lisa Beaulieu
    2019-03-19 00:50

    The four stars are rounded up from a 3.6 or so. This book is full of fascinating descriptions of Iceland, its culture, history, and mythology. We even get a taste of the language itself! Being as I am obsessed with Iceland, it was a wonderful read for me. The writing is mostly strong and often poetic. However, there are some things that just got on my nerves. One thing that bothered me ALOT was the author's description of sounds, given in italics. The first time it was clever, the second I said, mmm, the 20th I thought I would scream. I know that is minor, the thing is, this is so close to being an exceptional book, I held the writer to a higher standard I guess. The other thing that most bothered me was I never felt emotionally invested in anyone - not the narrator, and especially not Birdie. I think if I was supposed to believe this connection between them, there would have had to be more positive interaction between them - mostly Birdie was either a bitch, or depressed, around the child Freya. (A side note, would the family really have left a child with someone who had been in and out of mental institutions for all that time while Mary was in hospital? I think not.) After drawing out the "mystery" for so long (and I understand we are supposed to know well before Freya, but it did seem a little long...) the book wraps up a tad quickly too.Still, this is worth a read, it is enjoyable on a number of levels, and the author is one to watch (this is a first novel.)

  • Kristen
    2019-02-24 09:01

    This book made me want to be icelandic, or at least have a really good friend that lives there and lets me stay the summers. The writting, the voice, the pauses, the rhythm, I am not sure what the proper term is, but whatever IT is, it is different in this book. Good different, interesting different. It took me a chapter or two to find my bearings in reading the story, but I am so glad I continued. Sorry if this sounds silly, but sometimes I felt like I was reading english for the first time. How cool, after reading thousands of books, a writer can make my own language seem new to me. I only give is four out of five stars, because the ending didn't quite live up to its beginings.Read this book, don't give up in the begining. I will wait impatiently for more from this author.

  • Laura
    2019-03-24 01:02

    Although I was annoyed by the first chapter,the overly self-conscious posture of it, I read on and am glad I did. I love Sunley's characterizations, both of "her pople" and of place. Sunley takes a risk of losing her reader (spoiler alert) when her most interesting charcter, Birdie, dies midway through the book and the action slows. Again, I am glad I kept reading. The Tricking of Freya is filled (sometimes to overflowing)with Icelanadic language and lore. The mystery behind The Tricking of Freya is rendered as intricate double-speak, emulating the Icelanic language itself. Not a book to be read in a distracted state, it requires the reader's full attention.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-19 00:53

    A master-tale of search for identity and roots (set mostly in Manitoba & Iceland). Sunley is a clever, poetic and insightful wordsmith, as well as an astute observer of human nature at it's best and worst. I love a novel that has a good balance of good plot and great language - this has both. If you like stories about misfits discovering themselves and ones with complex characters, you'll love this journey of one woman through her family's history and secrets. I am an old friend of the author's from our NYU Film School days. she will have a reading for this novel at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle on March 12th - hope to see some of you there!

  • Shomeret
    2019-03-08 00:45

    As a poet who writes about runes, I adore kennings. So finding out that there is an emphasis on kennings in this novel attracted me to it. Sure enough there was a paragraph in The Tricking of Freya that inspired me to start the process on a new rune poem. Needless to say,I enjoyed the mythology element and the Icelandic history element.Although I saw the plot resolution coming a while before the big reveal, I did think the characterization was quite good.

  • Janelle
    2019-03-17 02:41

    I was captivated by this story about an Icelandic-Canadian-American (a tiny bit) family. Sunley's writing style was lush and lyrical - she really made me want to visit Iceland and learn more about its literacy tradition. My enjoyment was deepened by my recent reading of Halldór Laxness's Independent People, also set in Iceland, and my visit to the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle just a few months ago. But read this book even if you haven't read IP or visited the museum!

  • Lisa
    2019-03-09 02:57

    Okay I will admit to skipping over some of the parts about Iceland. But partly because I'm reading it for a book club and had to get it done. And I will admit to figuring out the "trick" ahead of time, well most of it. Otherwise, I thought it was well written with interesting and unique characters.

  • Celeste Miller
    2019-02-24 03:50

    I really enjoyed this book until the last 40 or so pages. At that point, it began to suffer from "Empire Falls Syndrome", or "Gotta wrap this thing up ASAP!" Also, I wish she gave the reader more credit toward the end. The repeated bait and switch gave me whiplash.

  • Linda
    2019-03-11 08:45

    I really enjoyed this novel. It inspired me to have a short lived obession with everything Icelandic!

  • Lucy A. March
    2019-02-25 04:57

    Normally, I go for novels that have at least one of three things 1) some kind of supernatural/fairytale/legend/myth element.2) a historical(ish) basis/setting/whateverOr3) some literary connection/merit (for example, the wonderful book on my favorites that is The Thirteenth Tale does not have fairies or one of Henry the 8th's wives coming back from the dead to retell her tragic tale or anything like that, but it DOES center around an author and alludes constantly to classic literature). True, I do have exceptions to this rule, if a particular non-magical/historical story catches my eye (such as Where Rainbows End or Speak or Tiger Eyes), but with a book with a title like "The Tricking of Freya", I gotta admit, I totally had my "I want a magic book about legends" goggles on. When I first saw the title, a million excited buzzings went through my head. Could it be a tale of the goddess Freya from Norse myths? Maybe some kind of princess with her namesake who gets tricked? I was thrilled, especially as Freya is one of my FAVORITE girl's names ever (do you know, translated, it simply means "Lady"?).Then I read the jacket flap. A furrow came between my eyes. No magic? Though, there IS a writer (Freya's aunt), and it was clear that this Freya HEARD a lot of legends growing up and she'd probably mention them in her narrative... Still, I was uncertain and mildly disappointed. UNTIL, that is, I began to read it. The prose is interesting, mainly letters written to some mysterious cousin Freya has never met though it is in a smooth style that every once in a while lets your brain just think you're simply reading regular first person POV. I quickly came to care for all the characters involved. Poor, guilt-ridden Freya, her sickly/injured mother, her wild selfish bi-polar aunt Birdie... They all found a place in my head and heart as I kept on reading. And I was NOT disappointed at all with the resolution of the plot. It was a BRILLIANT TWIST (SPOILERS) Freya's aunt is actually her birth mother, SHE was the mysterious cousin all along and didn't know it (END spoilers).So, if like me, the name Freya makes you feel giddy and you're ready for some kind of Norse romp with magical wolves and talking cats and a Princess with a name that means lady, don't be put off by the fact that this novel has none of that; it's STILL brilliant, and deserves to be read, enjoyed, and praised for the pleasant, bittersweet piece of literature it truly is. Highly recommend.

  • Joell Smith-Borne
    2019-03-18 01:00

    Really enjoying this so far--love the insights into Icelandic culture and landscape! I think the description is a little misleading--I thought that the obsession with the family secret is what would drive the main character to go to Iceland and make things happen, but it's more like the obsession is causing her to remember the stuff that happened when she was a kid. So far the adult version of Freya hasn't done anything except write letters, but the kid version has had an AMAZING and scary life. Maybe the adult version will take some action by the end--I've got about 1/3rd of the book to go....ETA: The adult Freya did have major adventures. I take back what I said about the description--it's correct, but the stuff it describes doesn't happen until a LONG way into the book. So happy that I totally knew all the stories from the saga, and have even read most of them--The Prose Edda, check; The Poetic Edda, check; Laxdæla Saga, check; Egil's Saga, check!

  • Toni Osborne
    2019-02-24 06:44

    This Icelandic saga is full of myth and legend, family drama and accentuated with a vivid description of a beautiful landscape. It tells the story of Freya Morris, a North American woman of Icelandic descent who is obsessed with uncovering a family secret.Freya grew up in Connecticut but each summer she visited her relatives in Gimli Manitoba, a tinny village in Canada settled by Icelandic immigrants. There she falls under the spell of her aunt Girdie and the story of a secret child she once gave birth to. Freya hopes to meet her cousin and in memoirs recounts her search for this unknown relative.This is a strange novel, one I found extremely hard to get into. It is written in a form of letters from Freya to her cousin, from the age of 7 to her adult life. It showcases the culture of Iceland and its complicated language. Ms Sunley has masterfully described the landscape, painting in ones mind a country of mesmerizing scenery giving her novel a rich tone. The cast of loveable characters are multi-dimensional and realistic. As for the plot, it was a wonderful journey into Iceland.I found the story to be a little on the slow side and its climax was evident early on.

  • Julie
    2019-02-27 03:03

    i began this novel with high hopes and was not let down. beautiful is the only word to describe sunley's intricate weaving of the elements of the story to create a rich and compelling tapestry of a novel. combining norse mythology, family drama, psychology, and cultural and historical themes, the tricking of freya strikes the perfect balance between these elements. sunley spins her tale expertly, sending us back and forth through time to link events, emotions, and themes in freya's life. her manipulation of chronology echoes the old norse concept of time and fate (everything has happened, is happening now, and will have happened, all at once). the timeline creates excitement for the reader and helps to link the mythology into the plot.i was excited, enthralled, disturbed, intrigued, and exhausted, sometimes all at once, while reading. i felt like a detective pursuing a strange and wonderful mystery.i will absolutely keep my eyes peeled for sunley's next endeavor!

  • Candice
    2019-03-13 06:42

    This was a truly absorbing book, and I am so glad to have won a copy from GoodReads! I love books centered on other cultures, and this book was centered on Icelandic culture. The title character, Freya, has had a difficult childhood, losing her father and a beloved aunt when she was still young, and her mother while she was in college. Taking place mostly in Gimli, Manitoba and Iceland, the book takes Freya on a journey to uncover a family secret. There is plenty of Icelandic history, culture, language, and mythology here. I was surprised to see that Icelandic has some elements of both German and English, so off to the Internet I went to look up a bit about the Icelandic language. I love it when books take me beyond their covers. Besides the dip into Icelandic culture, etc. the book was very well-written, the characters were believable and the story-line kept me turning the pages.

  • Jackballoon
    2019-02-23 06:03

    What fun to read this when I was in Iceland!

  • Larissa
    2019-03-14 08:59

    It is a touching and realistic portrayal of family and relationships as Freya sorts through her memories in an effort to find truth and identity. Her relationships with her mother and her aunt; one a plain and serious wife, the other an unpredictable woman living a rollercoaster existence of brilliance and misery, are explored. Freya must reconciled her feelings for these two most influential people in her life and discover the truth about her past before she is able to find acceptance of who she is and who she has become, in order to move on with her life.I greatly enjoyed this book. It was a pleasure to read.This book made me fall in love with literature all over again. I very much enjoyed the Icelandic language and myths that are woven very beautifully throughout this story, enriching Freya’s emotional journey through her past and looking forward to her future. A lovely book to curl up with.

  • Fiona
    2019-03-14 03:38

    Fantastic! I just love this book. I read it before, during and after a trip to Iceland and it was the best background reading I could have chosen. Maybe more a companion reader. I learned so much about Iceland, its people, language and culture, all of which gave me a context for my visit to this fascinating country. The descriptions of the landscape are written in beautiful prose and completely capture the extra ordinariness of the island. It's also a book about manic depression / bipolar disorder, its effects on the people who have it and on their family and friends. As readers, we know how Freya has been tricked from very early on and it's sometimes frustrating waiting for her to catch on but that's the whole point and it enthralled me through to the end. This will always now be one of my favourite books ever and I'm so grateful to the author for writing it. If I'm lucky enough to go back to Iceland, I'll be taking it with me.

  • lindsay
    2019-03-12 07:48

    so totally engrossing.i read all the blurbs about this book and somehow didn't fully grasp what it was going to be about but i was pleasantly surprised. the story moved slow and quiet and really picked up once freya was in iceland, which is when i became obsessed with iceland. how did i not know anything about iceland before? it wasn't just about iceland, though, it was about the struggle to figure out what your life is supposed to be like when the most important people to you are dead or absent in other ways (in freya's case, her bipolar aunt became her prevailing influence).anyway... the fixation on kennings got irritating really fast, but only cropped up some of the time, and the shifts in and out of flashback were kind of awkward, which are my only problems. you should probably read this book.

  • Bob Coats
    2019-03-05 01:01

    This 2009 coming-of-age novel is the story of Freya, a girl from the Canadian-Icelandic community near Winnepeg. At the age of 7, Freya falls under the influence of a beautiful, flamboyant and deeply disturbed (bipolar, paranoid)aunt who teaches her Icelandic and fills her head with Icelandic poetry and mythology. When Freya is 13, the aunt takes her (without parental permission) on a trip to Iceland, which ends in disaster. Freya is deeply wounded, and retreats into herself, but ultimately returns to her community of origin, and to Iceland, to discover the truth that had been hidden from her by her family. The novel is rich in vivid physical descriptions, and details of Icelandic language, culture and history. I recommend it highly.

  • Darshan Elena
    2019-03-04 05:57

    What a great novel! Sunley weaves together a tale of immigration and regeneration that references, invokes, and even uses some of the tropes and devices at the heart of Icelandic language and literature. But there's more, the author's description of the local features of Iceland made me yearn to visit this nation. So enticing did I find her descriptions that I spent a couple hours staring at images online - including travel possibilities! Snobs be warned: this book does adhere to generic conventions; there were no major surprises in the plot. The pleasures were those of prose, observation, and characterization... More than enough for me!

  • Janice
    2019-03-22 05:59

    I loved many things about this book. Hard to believe this is the first fiction by this author, her writing skills are so wonderful. I loved the story, about the life of a young woman, Freya, who is looking back at events in her childhood, and the dynamics within her family. Freya is "stuck", nearing her thirtieth birthday, and recently reconnecting with her 100 year old grandmother. This is a story not only of one young woman, one family, but also a culture and community. This book gives such a sense of place; the geography, geology, history, and some of the cultural artifacts of Iceland are not only part of the story, but underlie much of the history of this family.