One of my favorite authors is the Icelandic writer, Olaf Olafsson. I’ve read every one of his books. I’d heard of Halldor Laxness, another Icelandic writer. So, I guess I was favorably predisposed and hoping his books would be another wonderful read. Since Laxness won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955, I picked up his most famous work, Independent People.
Before we traveled to Iceland, all four of us had read at least one of Laxness’ books. I had read he was from a small town, Laxnes, which is not that far north of Reykjavik. We could stop by on our way to Thingvellir.
Laxnes was so small that, as we drove by, we only saw a sign for a horse-riding business on the left. Before we knew it, we’d driven well past where we should have seen the house and were well on our way to Thingvellir. Our friend, Nancy, was determined to see Halldor Laxness’ house. She’d been talking about this before we left the US and had mentioned it a number of times since arriving in Iceland. She sought after a Thingvellir Visitor Center employee for specific directions. After a brief visit at this most historic and important site, we were back in the car and headed, again, for Laxnes. And there it was – right across from the horse-riding business.
Trees were in front, partially blocking our view of the house, and no grand signs marked its presence. No wonder we missed it!
A home tells us about the people who live in it. The family was very social. The living room had a grand piano for the evening’s musical entertainment. The room was filled with comfortable seating, beautiful artwork, and many plants. The dining room had a large and cozy table. Ah, to have been a guest for an evening with the Laxnesses.
Upstairs the study was the most impressive room. It was lined with beautiful shelves and his books bound in leather- and so many other books too. Sentimental photos and drawings hung on the walls. The large windows faced west. The beautiful study looked personal and well-used. The bedrooms were very simple in comparison. Outside, we found a pool with sculpture on the grounds. In the driveway sat a fabulous antique Jaguar (the car, not the cat).
Halldor Laxness lived here in his later years. He was a celebrated writer. Now that we have read his work and seen his house, we regret there would never be an opportunity to meet him.