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The Invention of Lefse

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“Mette Iversdatter’s window was a porthole on the winter sky.”With this spare, vivid image, Larry Woiwode brings us into the simple and anxious rhythms of life for a Norwegian farm girl in the first decade of the twentieth century. Christmas Eve falls in the midst of deprivation as Mette’s family prepares to journey to her grandparents’ farm for Christmas. When her father fails to bag a big deer on the journey, they arrive, like everyone else, almost empty-handed. Yet despite frustration and disappointment, this extended family combines their meager resources to create an unexpected marvel of a meal that transforms the family’s Christmas.

Sharply observed and crisply written, Woiwode’s story throbs with truths known to human hearts in any century. He carefully renders the hesitant hopes of a child, the aching disappointments and steady perseverance of her elders, and the surprise of beauty and joy. That prayers may yet be answered—that the provision may be greater even than the promise—is a truth for Christmas and always.


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