April Book Club: The Mercies

Nordiska’s Book Club

To all of you who are new, welcome! Nordiska has launched its own book club for fellow Nordic reading enthusiasts to connect and be in community with one another virtually. We invite you to expand your Nordic reading repertoire and discuss a variety of written works with us the last Thursday of each month.

To returners, welcome back! I hope you all enjoyed last month’s exploration of the hidden, yet fascinating history of real Viking warrior women. This month we will be transitioning back into fiction with a novel set in 17th century Norway.

April’s Pick: The Mercies

Set in Vardø, Norway far above the Arctic Circle, The Mercies (2020) depicts the lives of two women in this arctic seaside community during a witch trials in the 1600’s. Novelist, playwright and children’s author Kiran Millwood Hargrave grants readers a unique insight into this dark period of Norwegian history based on real events.

In a previous blog post, I presented an overview of witchcraft in the Nordic countries, detailing how the witch scare came from Europe to northern Norway. Many suspected witches were tortured and killed at the fortress in Vardø. For more information you can follow this link.

Steilneset Memorial in Vardø, Norway, commemorating the trial and execution in 1621 of 91 people for witchcraft. Installation by Louise Bourgeois.

Synopsis:

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Bergensdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Northern town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty evil.

As Maren and Ursa are pushed together and are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence. Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1620 witch trials, The Mercies is a feminist story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.

Virtual Book Club Meeting Information

We will be meeting to discuss The Mercies on Thursday, April 28th at 6:00pm PST via Zoom. You can find the Zoom invitation link here to register for the meeting ahead of time and/or keep a look out on our social media sites for an invitation.

You can purchase your copy of The Mercies on Nordiska’s website by following this link, or come and visit us in store in downtown Poulsbo. As a thank you for purchasing your book with us, Nordiska is offering a 15% discount on the book club pick of the month by using the code: bookclub22.

Published by nordiskapoulsbo

I write for, edit and maintain this blog about celebrating and being inspired by Scandinavian cultures for the Nordiska store in Poulsbo, WA.

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