“[This] is a masterpiece... As a writer, Miss Sandel is Maugham's superior. She has not his gift of irony, but her emotional depth is far greater... Miss Sandel is a stylist, a writer of marvelous delicacy...To read it is, in part, to relive the painful experience of growing human.”
“This is a magnificent work of introspection; few women could reveal themselves so completely with such a critical eye and with such understanding of human weakness...The trilogy is a moving story, a familiar classic in Norwegian literature, and a prize to be translated for the American public.”
Cora Sandel, born Sara Fabricus in 1880, did not publish her first novel until 1926. Alberta and Jacob, first novel of the trilogy, is the story of an adolescent girl’s rebellion against the self–conscious gentility of her family in the far north of Norway during the last years of the nineteenth century. Imaginative and intelligent, Alberta Selmer longs for the knowledge and self fulfillment that her provincial surroundings cannot give her. Against the cold, barren backdrop of arctic Norway, Alberta’s awareness of herself and the world beyond her family and home emerge like the strange, constant daylight of the Nordic summer.
Alberta and Freedom, published in 1931, details Alberta’s life in Paris as an impoverished, struggling writer. Her parents have died and, having escaped her stifling life at home, she faces new conflicts as a woman: between loyalty to women friends and demanding male lovers, between her own timidity and ambition. The novel concludes with Alberta’s acceptance of a permanent relationship with Sivert, the father of her unborn child.
The concluding novel, Alberta Alone, was published in 1939. As a mother, Alberta is torn between commitments to her son and husband and to her unfulfilled yearning for a purposeful, creative life. An affair with a man sensitive to her creative impulse persuades her that she must abandon her marriage and return to Norway to pursue an autonomous existence. As the trilogy concludes, Alberta has determined to renew her writing career both for her own fulfillment and as a means of independence for herself and her son.
Cora Sandel’s trilogy creates an authentic female point of view. Through her focus on Alberta's emotional, sexual, and creative development, Sandel creates a unique portrait of a woman’s search for identity and fulfillment.
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