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The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas

First published, 1963

First English translation, 1966, Peter Owen Publishers

I discovered this beautiful, eerie, tale by chance in a pile of books donated to Amnesty International. Norwegian writer Tarjei Vesaas lived most of his life in a remote rural district of Norway. By the time of his death in 1970, he had been nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in literature and earned a reputation as a leading Nordic writer. I am grateful to no longer be ignorant of his existence and work.


The Ice Palace is a story (sometimes called a neo-prose poem), about the friendship between two young girls, a secret, and a tragedy. The main character at times seems to be the snow and the ice, which may not sound very cozy, but is striking and at times hypnotizing.


Writer Doris Lessing expressed it better than I can: "How simple this novel is. How strong. How unlike any other. It is unique. It is unforgettable. It is extraordinary."

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