Every summer of her childhood Freya Morris travels from her Connecticut home to the Manitoban resort town of Gimli. Gimli, an Icelandic-Canadian settlement, is home to Freya's entire maternal family. In Gimli Freya is immersed in the Icelandic culture her mother has neglected in their Connecticut life. Most appealing to Freya is time spent with her eccentric and troubled Aunt Birdie. As Freya grows older she learns Icelandic language and culture from Birdie. She also learns that Birdie is mentally ill, and can hurt those she loves on a whim. I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book. I knew nothing about Icelandic literature and myth, and I learned a great deal from this book. I also knew very little about Iceland, and Sunley's descriptions of the landscape are rich and evocative. She clearly illustrates Iceland's primordial landscape-- one of volcanic plains, geysers, and glaciers. Sunley also does an excellent job creating an Icelandic community in Canada. Again, I knew nothing of Icelandic migration to Canada, or of Icelandic enclaves in the prairies. While I was able to predict the plot's twist long before it was revealed I still found the book to be both engaging and enjoyable. It brought me into a world of the unknown.
Christina Sunley, The Tricking of Freya (St. Martin's Press, 2009) ISBN: 0312378777
Category: Canadian Fiction 3/9, 11/81