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Heiða - fjalldalabóndinn

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Hvað rekur unga konu til að gerast sauðfjárbóndi úr alfaraleið í stað þess að verða fyrirsæta í New York? Keppa í rúningi og stunda fósturtalningar í kindum stað þess að drekka í sig stórborgarlífið og slá í gegn á síðum glanstímarita? Heiða er sannkallað náttúrubarn og er einyrki á Ljótárstöðum sem er efsti bær í Skaftártungu. Jafnframt því að sinna fimm hundruð frjá hefu Hvað rekur unga konu til að gerast sauðfjárbóndi úr alfaraleið í stað þess að verða fyrirsæta í New York? Keppa í rúningi og stunda fósturtalningar í kindum stað þess að drekka í sig stórborgarlífið og slá í gegn á síðum glanstímarita? Heiða er sannkallað náttúrubarn og er einyrki á Ljótárstöðum sem er efsti bær í Skaftártungu. Jafnframt því að sinna fimm hundruð frjá hefur hún barist fyrir tilveru sinni og sveitarinnar fyrir autan – varið landið – svo öllu verði ekki fórnað fyrir fáein megawött; gljúfri, besta beitarlandinu – þar sem fyrst grær á vorin. Í þessari stórmerkilegu bók dregur Steinunn Sigurðardóttir upp áhrifamikla mynd af sérstæðri kvenhetju. Hér njóta sín allir helstu kostir Steinunnar sem rithöfundar; ísmeygileg kímni, leiftrandi stílgáfa, djúpt innsæi – og ást á landinu.


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Hvað rekur unga konu til að gerast sauðfjárbóndi úr alfaraleið í stað þess að verða fyrirsæta í New York? Keppa í rúningi og stunda fósturtalningar í kindum stað þess að drekka í sig stórborgarlífið og slá í gegn á síðum glanstímarita? Heiða er sannkallað náttúrubarn og er einyrki á Ljótárstöðum sem er efsti bær í Skaftártungu. Jafnframt því að sinna fimm hundruð frjá hefu Hvað rekur unga konu til að gerast sauðfjárbóndi úr alfaraleið í stað þess að verða fyrirsæta í New York? Keppa í rúningi og stunda fósturtalningar í kindum stað þess að drekka í sig stórborgarlífið og slá í gegn á síðum glanstímarita? Heiða er sannkallað náttúrubarn og er einyrki á Ljótárstöðum sem er efsti bær í Skaftártungu. Jafnframt því að sinna fimm hundruð frjá hefur hún barist fyrir tilveru sinni og sveitarinnar fyrir autan – varið landið – svo öllu verði ekki fórnað fyrir fáein megawött; gljúfri, besta beitarlandinu – þar sem fyrst grær á vorin. Í þessari stórmerkilegu bók dregur Steinunn Sigurðardóttir upp áhrifamikla mynd af sérstæðri kvenhetju. Hér njóta sín allir helstu kostir Steinunnar sem rithöfundar; ísmeygileg kímni, leiftrandi stílgáfa, djúpt innsæi – og ást á landinu.

30 review for Heiða - fjalldalabóndinn

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I was offered a proof copy by the publisher on Twitter. I read the first 53 pages. I’d read three other sheep-herding memoirs in the past year and thought it would be interesting to hear from a female Icelandic shepherd who was a model before taking over her family farm and then reluctantly went into politics to try to block a hydroelectric power station on her land. Unfortunately, though, the book is scattered and barely competently written. It doesn’t help that the proof is error-strewn. [This I was offered a proof copy by the publisher on Twitter. I read the first 53 pages. I’d read three other sheep-herding memoirs in the past year and thought it would be interesting to hear from a female Icelandic shepherd who was a model before taking over her family farm and then reluctantly went into politics to try to block a hydroelectric power station on her land. Unfortunately, though, the book is scattered and barely competently written. It doesn’t help that the proof is error-strewn. [This mini-review has been corrected to reflect the fact that, unlike what is printed on the proof copy, the sole author is Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, who has written the book as if from Heiða Ásgeirsdóttir’s perspective.]

  2. 4 out of 5

    Catalina

    The synopsis on which I based my request(on NetGalley) to read this(months before publication) was somewhat misleading. I thought I was going to read a book about nature, about the passage of seasons and how it impacts and changes nature, more poetry or more poetic language, if you like. But turns out I've read a memoir of sorts and while I did see the passage of seasons, it was centered on a single character and her life as a sheep farmer in Iceland. Poetry was scarce and for some reason, it wa The synopsis on which I based my request(on NetGalley) to read this(months before publication) was somewhat misleading. I thought I was going to read a book about nature, about the passage of seasons and how it impacts and changes nature, more poetry or more poetic language, if you like. But turns out I've read a memoir of sorts and while I did see the passage of seasons, it was centered on a single character and her life as a sheep farmer in Iceland. Poetry was scarce and for some reason, it wasn't even that poetic... That being said, I did get some enjoyment from reading this: it was interesting to read about the ins and outs of sheep farming, even if I cannot say I am actually interested in the subject. Impressive how strong a character Heida was(is?). The amount of work she was willing to do was really inspirational. (even if did get annoyed with comments like: 'I can do this because no one told me I couldn't do it'. Well Heida darling no one told me I couldn't do sheep farming either yet I am not doing it, and I will say I cannot do it, but that's not because someone told me I couldn't and I am so weak as to believe anyone who tells me stuff, but because I know myself too well and I know I would never want such a job for myself(eye roll). But at the same time I liked that she wasn't apologetic about the fact she's single and she doesn't want to have children, as each women should be! Stand up for yourself and what you believe in! ) My rating reflects the fact that, despite the enjoyment, a lot of stuff went wrong. Firstly: the writing style was very simplistic and unsatisfactory. If I would keep a diary it will be pretty much written as this book, and I am no author!! Secondly I suspect the translation wasn't the best. It wasn't flowing and the so called poetry, while really scarce, was missing rhythm...The story line was a bit jumpy: snippets of different things without a particular pattern. But I guess the worst is that we had no in depth view of anything. Just general lines of her work as a farmer in different seasons, just bits of her fight against the power plant, and even less of "portrait of a remote life close to nature." as let's be honest here: she was totally enjoying the perks of modern life: machinery, cars, internet etc

  3. 5 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Visit the locations in the memoir I’m on a role at the moment with books about fascinating people and how they live and their passion and endurance in times of trouble. This lady is my new heroine. I love books and TV shows about Iceland and have many Icelandic friends now through the book world which makes my urge to go there even stronger. How I would love to go and visit Heiða! I always think people who live in such remote locations have that sense of poetry about them and this lady does and Visit the locations in the memoir I’m on a role at the moment with books about fascinating people and how they live and their passion and endurance in times of trouble. This lady is my new heroine. I love books and TV shows about Iceland and have many Icelandic friends now through the book world which makes my urge to go there even stronger. How I would love to go and visit Heiða! I always think people who live in such remote locations have that sense of poetry about them and this lady does and more! From the start I was curious as to why someone, especially a model from New York, want to return to iceland and live on a farm. Her story about her father is heartbreaking and her endurance and sense of duty admirable Her passion for the farm and her way of life comes through loud and clear. She loves her land and her world, so when it’s threatened by power companies and corporate bullies, she stand for now nonsense and races forth into battle. Certain scenes wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Game of Thrones for the battles of David and Goliath that ensue. On a more day to day level, that’s when the story of this lady and the farm really shone for me. It’s a hard life and she makes no bones about it. The weather is an enemy, as is the soil. The very remoteness she loves is a problem when there’s no one else to help or rescue a situation. This is the beauty of the book though as you get to see, experience and feel the farm, the weather, the everyday routines that are so demanding yet rewarding at the same time. Although written by the Icelandic novelist Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, it’s Heiða’s distinctive voice that comes through and it’s as if you’re talking to her in her kitchen, laughing at her humour, marvelling at her plainspeaking and warming to her inspirational touch. If ever you’re down, or feel a challenge is too big, talk to Heiða. It’s a book about so much – conservation, yearning for a simpler life, and protecting what you love and fighting for what’s yours.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. Although this was a fascinating insight into sheep farming out in the wilds of Iceland overall it was let down by the rest of the story away from the wilds. It left me disappointed as a whole.

  5. 4 out of 5

    A Reader

    Whenever I have the opportunity to talk to a farmer, I am surprised to see that often see their land just as a productive resource, so farmers like Heiða, who are committed to their land and their way of living, is a constant fascination. For Heiða, land includes a lot more than just the productive function; it encompasses the concept of homeland, ancestors, the natural environment. It’s the water, the forests, the glaciers, and the volcanoes. Heiða, like other farmers, has a physical, social an Whenever I have the opportunity to talk to a farmer, I am surprised to see that often see their land just as a productive resource, so farmers like Heiða, who are committed to their land and their way of living, is a constant fascination. For Heiða, land includes a lot more than just the productive function; it encompasses the concept of homeland, ancestors, the natural environment. It’s the water, the forests, the glaciers, and the volcanoes. Heiða, like other farmers, has a physical, social and cultural connection with her land. Heiða is a shepherd. She farms alone on a wild and seemingly inhospitable place, in the south of Iceland. It’s so remote, although with the internet the world has become a small place now, that it’s known as the ‘End of the World.’ One of her closest neighbours is Katla, one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes, infamous for its large eruptions happening on average every 50-100 years. Heida: A Shepherd at the Edge of the World is not a memoir. It contains many biographical details, but it’s not a biography. It’s rather a diary-like record of a year in Heiða’s life, her commitment to the land, and to her 500 sheep, the daily struggles and her resistance at the construction of a huge power plant near her farm. Her struggle to defend the countryside, her own land and this hard but meaningful way of life, has cost Heiða an almost inhuman amount of effort and anxiety: “In these circumstances, I feel as if a knife has been thrust between my ribs-almost as if I am having a heart attack. Even know, just thinking about it, I get a stabbing pain in my chest and my shoulder muscles tense.” I loved the simplicity and the unpolished tone of the book. Heida is not just the story of a remarkable woman. It’s also the story of all these real women who stand on their own two feet and do it for themselves.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fern Adams

    Heida is a sheep farmer in rural Iceland. The book gives anecdotes of her life, work and surroundings and there really is a bit of everything in there. From growing up and attending boarding school, a brief modelling career, to all about sheep, lambing and spending hours in a tractor. Issues around politics, ecology and businesses buying up land and displacing farmers are also all addressed. I really enjoyed reading this and learned a lot from the pages. Heida is an excellent role model- she kn Heida is a sheep farmer in rural Iceland. The book gives anecdotes of her life, work and surroundings and there really is a bit of everything in there. From growing up and attending boarding school, a brief modelling career, to all about sheep, lambing and spending hours in a tractor. Issues around politics, ecology and businesses buying up land and displacing farmers are also all addressed. I really enjoyed reading this and learned a lot from the pages. Heida is an excellent role model- she knows what she wants and thinks and is definitely a go getter. In many ways this was a refreshing and wholesome read because it felt so genuine and honest. Reading it I almost forgot it was a book at all as it felt more like listening to a conversation. I particularly liked the sheep names! I suspect this is going to be a popular book. Only thing that would have improved it would have been a pronunciation guide at the end. There are some brilliant words and place names which I have no idea how to say but would like to. Thanks to Netgalley and John Murray Press for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jemima Pett

    This is a fascinating account of Heida's life in the Icelandic uplands, her dedication to her farm, her animals and her friends and their lifestyle. Pulled into politics against her will, she managed to lead the fight against a bully-boy power station development which would have ruined her very livelihood, as well as her home and the surrounding countryside. I think this would be more difficult to read had I not visited Iceland last year, getting close to some of the places she describes, includ This is a fascinating account of Heida's life in the Icelandic uplands, her dedication to her farm, her animals and her friends and their lifestyle. Pulled into politics against her will, she managed to lead the fight against a bully-boy power station development which would have ruined her very livelihood, as well as her home and the surrounding countryside. I think this would be more difficult to read had I not visited Iceland last year, getting close to some of the places she describes, including the National Park where the power plant was planned. For someone without a basic feel for the language I think the names and place-names could be a distraction too far, since the story is presented in a rather disjointed and distracting fashion. I found some of the details and anecdotes repetitive, but that can add to the impact. The author wrote it on the basis of telephone interviews snatched at odd times in Heida's incredibly busy life. It's a 3.5 stars from me, really.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Aldred

    This is a review for an English translation of this book. I am addicted to farming programmes and find Iceland one of the most fascinating countries in the world, not only for its landscape but also how poetry and its creation is embedded into the very heart of its people. So when Heiða, a memoir about a young Icelandic farmer who pounds out poetry in the cab of her tractor, came up for review I couldn’t resist taking a look at it. This is a story of a woman’s life simply told. Although written by This is a review for an English translation of this book. I am addicted to farming programmes and find Iceland one of the most fascinating countries in the world, not only for its landscape but also how poetry and its creation is embedded into the very heart of its people. So when Heiða, a memoir about a young Icelandic farmer who pounds out poetry in the cab of her tractor, came up for review I couldn’t resist taking a look at it. This is a story of a woman’s life simply told. Although written by the Icelandic novelist Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, she has taken great care to keep Heiða’s distinctive voice sounding loud and clear throughout. It is a very intriguing voice because Heiða is a very interesting and independent woman. Living way out in what many might consider a wilderness, is a source of bounty for Heiða, both in terms of livestock, and soul-enrichment. Yet not everyone sees the land as passionately as Heiða,who has been born into it, living and breathing its landscape on a daily basis. It is Heiða’s passion for her way of life which means she has to lock horns with corporate giants to prevent an ecological devastation of her world.The David and Goliath battle that ensues, as a prominent power company manoeuvres to compulsorily purchase land for a power generating dam, is as nail-biting as any thriller or as epic a tale as any of The Sagas of the Icelanders. But woven within this drama is the day-to-day work on the farm, which can be demanding, relentless and heart-breaking as Heiða works to keep her livestock safe in an environment that can change from sun to freezing storms in a moment. What came through this plain-speaking young woman’s account of her life while fighting the utility giants, family tragedy and running her farm, was her incredible zest for life and the need to live it to the full. I hate using the word inspirational, but Heiða is that type of book and well worth a read for anyone with a passion for conservation or just wondering how to lift themselves above what seems to be the kind of life which might throw far too many challenges at them. Heiða was courtesy of John Murray Press via NetGalley.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cathryn

    I have this unlikely fantasy of having sheep one day. Not lots of them, just a half-a-dozen, in the garden. Obviously, not in my garden. Even if I was to take over all the shared grassed space around the building, I don't think it would be enough for more than one or two, which isn't ideal for a herd animal. Its beside a busy road, and would be stressful for them, and although the neighbours have been very accepting of my wee orchard, I think sheep might push their tolerance of eccentricity. So I I have this unlikely fantasy of having sheep one day. Not lots of them, just a half-a-dozen, in the garden. Obviously, not in my garden. Even if I was to take over all the shared grassed space around the building, I don't think it would be enough for more than one or two, which isn't ideal for a herd animal. Its beside a busy road, and would be stressful for them, and although the neighbours have been very accepting of my wee orchard, I think sheep might push their tolerance of eccentricity. So I content myself with the occasional book or film, and this caught my eye. Heida Asgeirsdottir is a sheep farmer, running a remote 6000ha station in rural Iceland. She became a public figure when a hydroelectric scheme threatened her land, and she lead the campaign to stop it. The book is more a diary of her day to day life than about the campaign, showing a very different way to be a modern European. She farms on her own, supporting and supported by a close-knit family and friends, composes poetry, moves her sheep to their summer pastures and back into their winter sheds, runs a pregnancy scanning business (for sheep) and deals with everything life throws at her over the course of the year. Its written in a plain, no-nonsense style, rather as I imagine Heida herself to be. That makes it an easy read, but often with sudden forays into depths of unexpected and fascinating detail. What does it feel like to make a mistake looking after an animal which means it has to be shot? Living with the fear of having to pay for repairs to expensive machinery? Dealing with being ill while having only 6 weeks to do your main income-producing work ? A problem is encountered, dealt with in a matter-of-fact way, and we're on to the next thing. This is not an easy life at all. It a good life tand this uplifting book shows us a strong, capable woman living on her own terms.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vivienne

    My thanks to John Murray for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Heida: A Shepherd at the Edge of the World’ by Steinunn Sigurðardóttir in exchange for an honest review. ‘Heida’ was originally published in Iceland in 2017 and became a bestseller. It has been translated into English by Phillip Roughton. In the foreword the author presents her subject, Heida Gudny Ásgeirsdóttir, and how she came to be fascinated by her story. She details the methods that she used to give Heida a voice while remaining invisib My thanks to John Murray for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Heida: A Shepherd at the Edge of the World’ by Steinunn Sigurðardóttir in exchange for an honest review. ‘Heida’ was originally published in Iceland in 2017 and became a bestseller. It has been translated into English by Phillip Roughton. In the foreword the author presents her subject, Heida Gudny Ásgeirsdóttir, and how she came to be fascinated by her story. She details the methods that she used to give Heida a voice while remaining invisible herself. Heida lives on Ljótarstaðir, a farm which has been occupied since the 12th Century, with her 500 sheep. In recent years she has become engaged in a campaign to halt the building of a power plant in her region that would have a devastating impact upon the local environment. Very much a loner she became politically active due to this. This biography/memoir is anecdotal and very stream of consciousness in style. As a result it jumps all over the place in Heida’s life though has a structure linked to the seasons. A number of Heida’s poems are scattered throughout the text. I was so a amused when in one section as Heida is sharing details about her candidacy and then suddenly “Jesus, there went a duck! I hope I haven’t driven over its nest. No, there it is. I missed it, thank goodness. I count eight eggs in the nest. There are birds here everywhere. I’m constantly moving snipe chicks out of the uncut grass. This candidacy...” I certainly was impressed by Heida, her fierce independence, quirky personality, compassion for animals and sense of connection to the land. She also doesn’t shy from sharing details of lambing and of times when she had to put her animals down. Sad but that is the reality of farm life. Although not a big reader of biographies or memoirs, I found Heida very relatable and felt that Sigurðardóttir did succeed in remaining invisible. It also provided an excellent account of life in rural Iceland.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I read the English translation of this and it was a great insight into a tough life. Heida is a sheep farmer in the wilds of Iceland and potentially could lose her land to a power station company. She steps up, gets involved in politics and all the way through looks after her sheep and lambs, while running side businesses and having fun. I liked Heida and I liked the book but I would have liked more insight into the life and a more structured narrative as this is little separate stories and inci I read the English translation of this and it was a great insight into a tough life. Heida is a sheep farmer in the wilds of Iceland and potentially could lose her land to a power station company. She steps up, gets involved in politics and all the way through looks after her sheep and lambs, while running side businesses and having fun. I liked Heida and I liked the book but I would have liked more insight into the life and a more structured narrative as this is little separate stories and incidents. The writing, however, is quite beautiful:- "To be the only worker keeping this going and continuing this battle while feeling as though I am being punched in the face over and over and over, on a boat that's being constantly rocked beneath me, can be an almost unbearably heavy burden at times." "One of the things that I find most unbearable is having these people crawling all over my river and across my land: these people who have come here to destroy my land in order to make money from it. I'm constantly aware of them wading through the river, scaring the geese, and disturbing my sheep. And they're allowed to do so. And I who live here, the landowner, am not allowed to kick them off my land." She describes depression as well as any writer I have ever read on the subject. "When depression hits you full force, reason can't help you. Depression overwhelms all rationality." Her love for the land is clear and all consuming, "We humans are mortal: the land outlives us. New people come and go, new sheep, new birds and so on, but the land, with its rivers and lakes, vegetation and resources, remains. It undergoes changes over the years, but it remains." There is no denying Heida is a remarkable woman and I wish there were many more like her in the world. I cannot, however, envy her life which is hard and unremitting, even if she does get to have fun on her quad bike now and again. Recommended if you're going through a tough time or feeling a bit sorry for yourself. However hard life is, it usually isn't this hard. I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley in return for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jane Hunt

    I was attracted to this book because it is about a place, Iceland, that I know little about, it is currently a popular holiday destination too. The idea of a female Shepherd, running a farm practically single-handed is worth reading about, so I did. The book has an informative forward, written by the biographer, who is a notable Icelandic author. The book came into being because Heida wanted to stop parts of her land, which has been farmed since the 12th-century being destroyed by an energy compa I was attracted to this book because it is about a place, Iceland, that I know little about, it is currently a popular holiday destination too. The idea of a female Shepherd, running a farm practically single-handed is worth reading about, so I did. The book has an informative forward, written by the biographer, who is a notable Icelandic author. The book came into being because Heida wanted to stop parts of her land, which has been farmed since the 12th-century being destroyed by an energy company. This it seems is the catalyst for Heida sharing her life to date, but the story is so much more than this. Written like a memoir, this story details Heida’s life, much of which has been spent on Ljótarstaðir, her family farm. The writing style is informal. It is emotional, individual and personal, providing a real insight into her life. It is also a story about preserving a way of life and the individual versus the corporate machine. The unwavering message being, it is not enough to want to keep your way of life, in an ever-changing world, you sometimes have to step into their world and fight on equal terms. If you enjoy learning about different ways of life and culture and have a love of animals this will be an interesting read for you, like it is for me. I received a copy of this book from John Murray Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    I received a free digital copy of this book from Netgalley. I know very little about Iceland, and I'm a sucker for a female-led narrative, so on both counts Heida performed beautifully. Heida Ásgeirsdóttir is a farmer poet working and living in rural Iceland, rearing over 500 sheep while battling the evils of corporate greed. How's that for a character description? The book is told from Heida's point-of-view and recounts the trials and tribulations of sheep farming and local politics, as well as su I received a free digital copy of this book from Netgalley. I know very little about Iceland, and I'm a sucker for a female-led narrative, so on both counts Heida performed beautifully. Heida Ásgeirsdóttir is a farmer poet working and living in rural Iceland, rearing over 500 sheep while battling the evils of corporate greed. How's that for a character description? The book is told from Heida's point-of-view and recounts the trials and tribulations of sheep farming and local politics, as well as supplying us with biographical info on Heida herself. Overall, I enjoyed the book. Heida's life is incredibly interesting, and her narration on both the day-to-day and overarching issues that shape her life was heart breaking and uplifting in turn. It is great to hear the outcome of the power plant battle, and her triumphs in lambing. One thing to note is that the story jumps and starts from one point to the next without there being a typical flow of events. This is fairly true to how life is, and at points you feel as though you are sitting with Heida herself as she discusses her life. My one problem was that, reading on Kindle it seemed like I was missing out on formatting that may have made some chapters easier to follow.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Mackay

    This is a really odd sort of book. It is very bitsy. The author says at the start that she is a novelist and had no idea how to tackle a non-fiction book. This is very evident when you read it. She said that she wrote the book through conversations she had with the subject. There is just no logical structure to it. And the headings seem almost irrelevant to what you’re about to read. The subject’s Poetry is absolutely dreadful drivel! It is actually quite interesting to read about a shepherd’s l This is a really odd sort of book. It is very bitsy. The author says at the start that she is a novelist and had no idea how to tackle a non-fiction book. This is very evident when you read it. She said that she wrote the book through conversations she had with the subject. There is just no logical structure to it. And the headings seem almost irrelevant to what you’re about to read. The subject’s Poetry is absolutely dreadful drivel! It is actually quite interesting to read about a shepherd’s life in Iceland, and also to read about the environmental concerns in that country. So yes there are definitely interesting aspects to this book but it is just not well written. If you can get past that you will find some interesting content. Indeed it appears that the author has literally just taken down what the subject said and transcribed it. There doesn’t seem to be any editing or structure to it. And maybe the translation is not very good?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Snorki

    Biographical account of a year in the life of a female Icelandic farmer, who has started to become more prominent due to her opposition to a hydroelectric development proposed in the area including some of her land. Having visited Iceland last year, this was a very engaging book for me as I could imagine some of the places and challenges. Farming is a hard occupation anywhere but Iceland seems particularly challenging given the climate, but Heida would not want to do anything else. Her love of t Biographical account of a year in the life of a female Icelandic farmer, who has started to become more prominent due to her opposition to a hydroelectric development proposed in the area including some of her land. Having visited Iceland last year, this was a very engaging book for me as I could imagine some of the places and challenges. Farming is a hard occupation anywhere but Iceland seems particularly challenging given the climate, but Heida would not want to do anything else. Her love of the land and of farming comes through strongly in this book. Really enjoyed reading it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    It is very seldom that i will read a biography, as i do prefer to read fiction books. I live by the South Downs and the front cover reminded me of the many sheep that i pass whilst out driving. Hence the cover caught my attention at first, followed by the synopsis. So glad to have read this book, which was very interesting and very well written. I rarely write what a story is about, as i prefer one to read a book for themselves, but i do recommend. My thanks to Netgalley and the Publishers for my It is very seldom that i will read a biography, as i do prefer to read fiction books. I live by the South Downs and the front cover reminded me of the many sheep that i pass whilst out driving. Hence the cover caught my attention at first, followed by the synopsis. So glad to have read this book, which was very interesting and very well written. I rarely write what a story is about, as i prefer one to read a book for themselves, but i do recommend. My thanks to Netgalley and the Publishers for my copy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Martha Brindley

    As a person who loves travelling, outdoors and animals, this book really appealed to me. it was not merely about sheep farming in Iceland, but a well written biography and interesting story. It will appeal to anyone who is interested in people and other countries. it just makes me want to go and visit what I imagine to be a beautiful country at the top of the world. My thanks to Net Galley for my copy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    It totally wasn’t what I expected, imagining this book to be almost purely about sheep farming in Iceland, but it became more. An incredibly fascinating biography that will appeal to many and not just those in farming. Well worth giving a go as it’s a fascinating insight into not only farming but fighting for your dreams, the environment, and life towards the top of the world.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alexander

    I really wanted to enjoy this, but it’s so dull I had to give up. Around a quarter of the way through are pages and pages about hay bailing, saying the same thing over and over. For a relatively short book this could still have done with some serious pruning.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jane Stewart

    Sheep farming in Iceland. What's not to like? The book was written in an odd way so it never really flowed. However the anecdotes were interesting and I now know a lot more about sheep farming in Iceland.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I want to be Heida's friend. The story is so interesting although due to the translation reads a little strangely in places. I like the way it jumped about and swapped between her political work, farm work, and personal life.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sue Frances

    A lovely book to read. Heidi made me laugh, she has a sense of fun about her. I can picture her dancing in her tractor. Her values come from her family and she's not afraid of hard work.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gill

    An interesting enough narrative about the author's life in Iceland.Her life is tough but rewarding with her commitment to the land that she farms.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Cooper

    Heida Steinunn Sigurdardóttir ** Heida owns a sheep farm in a remote hilly area of Iceland, close to one of Iceland’s active volcanos. She took over the farm at the age of 23 and has been running it on her own since then. When her land is threatened with the construction of a hydroelectric power plant, Heida has to enter the world of politics in order to fight her corner. This book spans a year in Heida’s life as she struggles to keep the farm up and running while she goes into battle with the powe Heida Steinunn Sigurdardóttir ** Heida owns a sheep farm in a remote hilly area of Iceland, close to one of Iceland’s active volcanos. She took over the farm at the age of 23 and has been running it on her own since then. When her land is threatened with the construction of a hydroelectric power plant, Heida has to enter the world of politics in order to fight her corner. This book spans a year in Heida’s life as she struggles to keep the farm up and running while she goes into battle with the power company. This book gives an insight into the world of a shepherd in a remote location – and a very tough job it is too. It is not only physically demanding, there are multiple challenges encountered on a daily basis which all have to be fitted into an already busy schedule. Heida is also a poet and the book incorporates some of her work. I would imagine that translating poetry into a different language presents its own set of challenges and I think the translator did a particularly good job of this aspect of the book. However, unfortunately my views were not all positive. Although the subject matter of the book really appealed to me, I thought the execution was poor in many areas. Firstly, it is written in a strange format – part diary, part memoir. Dated diary entries are interspersed with short chapters on various topics and then somewhat random poetry is thrown into the mix. This gives the whole book a very disjointed feel to it and makes it very confusing to read. I often struggled to work out where Heida was, the order of events leading up to that point and generally found it difficult to form a coherent picture of what was happening. I would have appreciated more information, more structure and more depth rather than the snippets which I was given. In addition, the sentence construction and grammar is, at times, decidedly peculiar – words in the wrong order and words used wrongly, often creating ambiguity. I don’t know whether it is the way the author has written the book or whether it is the translation process that has caused these issues. Whilst I am loathe to be overly critical of either as I know they have both done a better job than I could possibly have done, that doesn’t get away from the fact that the novel is muddled and therefore difficult to read. My final comment is that there is a lot of repetition within the book, which may be a result of the somewhat disorganised choice of writing style. I did not find this book particularly enjoyable to read and would probably not go out of my way to read more by this author.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lucyaliceann

    I have quite a personal affinity to Iceland and was excited to get stuck into this book. I love to read about the day to day lives of other cultures. Heida herself, a one-time model, politician and, of course, farmer is an amazing character. However, the writing style of this book is rather difficult to get through. I wonder if, in some ways, this is down to its translation from Icelandic. The Icelanders are known for being a stoic people who are direct and uncomplicated. This perhaps leads to the I have quite a personal affinity to Iceland and was excited to get stuck into this book. I love to read about the day to day lives of other cultures. Heida herself, a one-time model, politician and, of course, farmer is an amazing character. However, the writing style of this book is rather difficult to get through. I wonder if, in some ways, this is down to its translation from Icelandic. The Icelanders are known for being a stoic people who are direct and uncomplicated. This perhaps leads to the direct and uncomplicated written style. In the end it just felt lacking in description and action. I have not finished the book yet, but it’s not top of my to do list to do so right now. I think that I might come back to the book in the future, I would like to hear more of Heida, but for now it remains unfinished.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Val Robson

    This is a disjointed book.with no flow. It is basically a series of paragraphs of what Heiða, ex-model now single female sheep farmer in Iceland, is doing that day. A lot about caring for her sheep and quite a lot about local politics and the struggle to stop a power company from building on local land diverting the river and generally causing problems for all the farmers in the area. As is the case in Iceland, the names are not easy and people tend to be identified by where they come from. A map This is a disjointed book.with no flow. It is basically a series of paragraphs of what Heiða, ex-model now single female sheep farmer in Iceland, is doing that day. A lot about caring for her sheep and quite a lot about local politics and the struggle to stop a power company from building on local land diverting the river and generally causing problems for all the farmers in the area. As is the case in Iceland, the names are not easy and people tend to be identified by where they come from. A map would have been very helpful. I spent much time in the first third of the book trying to locate where Heiða was speaking about geographically. This was rarely successful as many place names are duplicated in Iceland so It was not easy to identify the area. I finally worked out that Heiða's farm, Ljotarstadir, is north of Vik on the south coast, about 4 hours drive east of Reykjavik, Even after working this out the place names made little sense, nor the distances she was travelling in her tractor or car as I had no real concept of the geography involved. There is a lot of talk of ‘tedding’ which I only found out what this means after I’d finished the book. It’s turning over and spreading out grass, hay, or straw to dry it for for bedding. I found the political sections about the local committees, elections and potential building of the power plant dull as I didn’t really understand the whole system of government. I know that the Icelandic farmers let their sheep loose for the summer and then have a big rounding up session in the autumn. They have sheep sorters – massive circular pens with lots of movable fences to sort everyone’s sheep so that they go to the correct farm for the winter. There was a lot of talk in the book about ‘round-ups’ but I did wonder if the average non-Icelandic reader would understand what this was. If you find counting sheep too stimulating then this is the alternative for calming you down. Or making you feel sleepy in my case. With thanks to NetGalley and John Murray Press for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Adam Bowie

    This book captures the fascinating world of a remote sheep farmer in Iceland. Heida (or more properly Heiða) is a sheep farmer who single-handedly runs her farm, Ljótarstaðir. Having previously read James Rebank’s A Shepherd’s Life, about how things work in the Lake District, you discover that while some things are the same – everyone relies on quad bikes to get around – many things are different. Heida also has bigger worries. She is fighting the loss and destruction of her land, with plans for This book captures the fascinating world of a remote sheep farmer in Iceland. Heida (or more properly Heiða) is a sheep farmer who single-handedly runs her farm, Ljótarstaðir. Having previously read James Rebank’s A Shepherd’s Life, about how things work in the Lake District, you discover that while some things are the same – everyone relies on quad bikes to get around – many things are different. Heida also has bigger worries. She is fighting the loss and destruction of her land, with plans for a massive power plant to be built in her rural idyll, with a massive damn and the attendant flooding. These plans invariably cause splits in communities – some perhaps happy to take the money and run. But Heida is a fighter and she takes political action, ultimately standing for election. She might live alone on the family farm, her mother no longer able to help as much as she once could, and illness sometimes taking her away, but Heida’s life is fascinating and busy. She runs a pregnancy scanning operation for ewes across the country. She regularly enters sheep shearing competitions, traveling abroad to take part. Indeed for a lonely sheep farmer, she’s pretty cosmopolitan – having rejected an earlier potential career as a model. But mostly, she’s in love with her land. She’s a poet, and this book is filled with her work. For an urbanite such as myself, it’s sometimes hard to read about shooting animals injured beyond help – Heida finds it unpleasant work too – and the reality of having to work basically around the clock during lambing season. Yet, this book gives me new insight into that life, and it’s fantastic to hear the words of someone so protective of that way of life. The book is quite conversational in tone. Although it broadly follows the structure of “a year in the life”, it has regular diversions into whatever’s on Heida’s mind. Steinunn Sigurðardóttir has captured her tone of language, so many sentences are relatively short and abrupt. Yet you believe that it’s a real person behind it. It certainly left me wanting to explore some of the more remote corners of Iceland in the future.

  28. 5 out of 5

    thewoollygeek

    A fascinating biography , such a strong woman and it was lovely reading about Iceland and the bonds she has with farming and her animals. It’s entertaining too, she’s really funny, felt a bit chaotic at times but I think that’s more her personality and it made it charming. Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eloise

    This was a fantastically inspiring memoir of someone living a life I can only dream of. As I grew up on a remote Welsh farm there were so many aspects of this book I could relate to. As well as Iceland being a completely intriguing country. This was a brilliant read!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    I know very little about Iceland, and I'm a sucker for a female-led narrative, so on both counts Heida performed beautifully. Heida Ásgeirsdóttir is a farmer poet working and living in rural Iceland, rearing over 500 sheep while battling the evils of corporate greed. How's that for a character description? The book is told from Heida's point-of-view and recounts the trials and tribulations of sheep farming and local politics, as well as supplying us with biographical info on Heida herself. Overall, I know very little about Iceland, and I'm a sucker for a female-led narrative, so on both counts Heida performed beautifully. Heida Ásgeirsdóttir is a farmer poet working and living in rural Iceland, rearing over 500 sheep while battling the evils of corporate greed. How's that for a character description? The book is told from Heida's point-of-view and recounts the trials and tribulations of sheep farming and local politics, as well as supplying us with biographical info on Heida herself. Overall, I enjoyed the book. Heida's life is incredibly interesting, and her narration on both the day-to-day and overarching issues that shape her life was heart breaking and uplifting in turn. It is great to hear the outcome of the power plant battle, and her triumphs in lambing. One thing to note is that the story jumps and starts from one point to the next without there being a typical flow of events. This is fairly true to how life is, and at points you feel as though you are sitting with Heida herself as she discusses her life. My one problem was that, reading on Kindle it seemed like I was missing out on formatting that may have made some chapters easier to follow.

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