The Invention of Lefse: A Christmas Story

The Invention of Lefse: A Christmas Story

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by Larry Woiwode

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This new Christmas story opens a window on the stark world of a bare Norwegian Christmas where small, unlooked-for blessings bring new hope and beauty to the life of a struggling family.


This new Christmas story opens a window on the stark world of a bare Norwegian Christmas where small, unlooked-for blessings bring new hope and beauty to the life of a struggling family.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Novelist Woiwode tells a small tale, timeless as a folktale or myth, in his distinctive voice. An extended family in rural Norway gathers for Christmas in the first decade of the 20th century. Times have been hard, and little can be brought to the family celebration. But flour and milk from one visitor, sugar from another, and potatoes from a third make a rich treat for the family. This is a folksy departure from the standard holiday fare, one that illuminates Norwegian cultural roots, family ways, and the generous hope that is the gift of Christmas. All ages. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Lefse is a traditional, Norwegian flatbread made out of potato, milk, and flour and cooked on a griddle. Here, Woiwode tells the story of its invention, as seen through the eyes of young Mette Iversdatter. On Christmas Eve in 12th-century Norway, Mette and her family travel to her grandparents' farm. Her father is unable to shoot a deer on the journey, and the family arrives empty-handed. Family members pull together their meager resources to create a feast, and a new tradition is born. VERDICT Beautifully written, this lovely little gem is bound to become a new Christmas reading tradition for families. Recommend it to parents who love Tomie dePaola's The Legend of the Poinsettia or Michael J. Rosen's Elijah's Angel.

Product Details

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5.70(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.50(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

“Woiwode has a poet’s sensibility, and his scenes can resonate with perfect descriptions, not a detail astray. . . . I could go on enumerating the solidity and effective voice with which Woiwode sketches his world.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Here is a writer truly of American grain, a writer whose prose throbs with affection for and understanding of the land and its people.”
The Washington Post Book World

“He continues to be a writer who can not only dazzle . . . but illuminate. . . . There is something organic, whole, and necessary about his work; it blows fuses.”
The Boston Globe

“One reads Woiwode as much for the power and stunning beauty of his prose as for any story he chooses to tell.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer

“He writes with a sense of both the quicksilver movement of language on the run and the reflective inner drag and furrowing of thought.”
The New York Times Book Review

Meet the Author

Larry Woiwode is a Guggenheim and Lannan Fellow, recipient of the William Faulkner Foundation Award and John DosPassos Prize, a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Book Critics Circle Award, and has received the Medal of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters “for distinction in the art of the short story.” His work has been featured in publications such as The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Books & Culture, and The Atlantic. He is Poet Laureate of North Dakota, Writer-in-Residence at Jamestown College, and author of Words Made Fresh and Words for Readers and Writers.

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Invention of Lefse: A Christmas Story 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
michelemorin More than 1 year ago
The Invention of Lefse is a peaceful, homely Christmas tale that spins a fable for the origin of Norwegian lefse bread while also drawing the reader back into a long-forgotten day of simple celebration and elaborate joy. Thirteen-year-old Mette Iversdatter wakes early on Christmas eve to the wonder of frost on her new glass bedroom window and to the prospect of the day-long journey by sledge to her grandparents’ home. The spectre of famine hangs over their family celebration, for while their own wheat crop was adequate, Mette’s parents know that their extended family is in need, prompting a wrapped gift of fresh ground flour. With only two bullets remaining, Dad mourns a missed shot at a huge deer which would have been their Christmas feast. Thus, disappointment is an unwelcome guest that arrives late in the day to Grampy’s eager greeting: “Did you bring us deer meat?” Family conversation wobbles through the evening, rather like Grampy’s uneven rocking chair, until he gathers Mette and the children for a story. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the Christmas spirit reigns in a scene reminiscent of An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott. Gifts of sugar, flour, milk, and creamy butter transform blackened potatoes into a Christmas breakfast feast: lefse! “Lefse is the gift for all,” cried Grampy, and he spoke truer than he knew. Made from what they had, the lesson of lefse foreshadows the fulfillment of Mette’s Christmas prayers, while reminding readers from more prosperous times that the spirit of Christmas lives in a heart that celebrates what God has already given. Disclosure: This book was provided by Crossway in exchange for my unbiased review.
InTheBookcase More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting read, but definitely not a favorite. It is the author's imaginative view of how lefse bread came to be. (Which is a Norwegian flatbread now primarily eaten during the holidays.) "The Invention of Lefse" is a sweet story of a Norwegian family on a bleak Christmas when there doesn't seem much to celebrate. I'm not sure to recommend this book for children or adults. I suppose it would make a nice family read. The main thing I didn't like was that the dialogue seems to get a bit dull at times. For a short story... it's a nice read.