Heida

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

A very interesting read about the world of working with sheep and as a shepherdess. 
Good read. 
Thank you to both NetGalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my review
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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.
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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.
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Here's a book to give to a teen who is fascinated with the larger world and for whom you have secret aspirations of greatness. Leave it on your coffee table or somewhere where it will get picked up and read.

Presented in a no-nonsense translation, the life of Heida Ásgeirsdóttir is presented in seasons of a single year. The writing is straightforward and, judging from other reviews, does not appeal to everyone. The lack of lyricism didn't bother me much as a reader, but I was curious that a culture that prides itself on extemporaneous poetry could not produce a more poetic text. The translator perhaps?

Nevertheless, Heida tells us a lot about Iceland, its climate and natural world, and the rigors of farming. We learn how solitary farming is and thus how important social conventions, including wild parties, are to a rural culture.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy Scandinavian culture, rural culture, and sheep. It's also wildly feminist.
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An interesting look at Icelandic farming with some beautiful prose. It also contains an element of environmentalism and the politics of being a landowner.
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The subject matter of this book really appealed to me . It follows a year in the life of a sheep farmer in Iceland. Heida took over the sheep farm aged 23 and was running it on her own. The book gave an insight into the many physical and mental challenges involved in running a sheep farm in a remote location. Heida is also a poet and the book incorporates some of her work - this was a lovely touch
The book follows Heida as she enters the world of politics as the future of her farm becomes jeopardised by the building of a hydro- electric power plant. 
The book is written in a strange fashion, part of the book is a diary, part as memories with poetry thrown randomly into the mix. It was a hard book to read and I did struggle at times but I am glad I persevered.  Would I read more by this author ? Probably though there is problems with translation .
I would like to thank John Murray Press and Netgalley for letting me read this book in exchange for an honest review
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I'm a fan of reading memoirs and biographies of people that lead such a different life from me and this book didnt disappoint. Heida does a good job of capturing the realness of the sheep farming trade but also of the landscapes and seasons in Iceland. The writing feels a bit distorted at times which might be due to the translation but it didn't stop me from enjoying this book.
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Leidenschaftlich und aufrüttelnd - ein Buch wie eine Naturgewalt. Die Geschichte einer Frau, die ihresgleichen sucht und ein bewegender Aufruf an uns alle zum Schutz der Natur, Umwelt und das Leben im allgemeinen.
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The term strong woman is bandied about a lot in society today. But Heida absolutely merits this complimentary moniker. I’ve long been a fan of fiction and non-fiction set in Iceland. The memoir doesn’t overdramatize the landscape and seasons, but perfectly depicts them in a way that allows you to visualise where she lives.

And what a life she has chosen to lead and continues to lead! 

Conservationist, shepherdess, poet, businesswoman and ecologist. Heida is everything - but also incredibly modest. 

The narrative is a little back and forth and her 'voice' is probably distorted a little because of the translation - but this didn’t bother me, it might not work for some but don’t let it put you off. 

I raced through this account of a woman who took on the family farm and is making it work today. 

I’m looking more to reading more about Heida a remarkable human being who absolutely does walk to the beat of her own drum.
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While I did enjoy reading about the sheep farming practice, overall it was a disappointing read. The writing style is simplistic and unsatisfactory. The translation didn't flow and it was particularly evident in the few bits of poetry. And I was annoyed with the missing in-depth as everything was just skimmed: general lines about the farming process, just bits and bobs about her fight  against the power plant and even less of "portrait of a remote life close to nature - as she was definitely making the most of modern perks: machinery, cars, internet etc
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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.
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What an awesome woman living in this remote landscape. It reminded me a little of the tales of Hannah Hawksworth. It takes a strong personality to live this sort of life and is alien to town dwellers like me.
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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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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.
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This was an intriguing book, giving a glimpse into one, very determined, woman's life, battling with politics as well as running a farm and earning enough money to live on. I was impressed with Heida, with her determination and openness throughout the book. She had many struggles, but often there was an entertaining anecdote thrown in.

I did find the descriptions of the landscape brought it to life, and you could picture the scenery which Heida clearly loves. Unfortunately I don't know Iceland so the place names led to some confusion. A map would have really helped! There were at times there was quite a lot of repetition within the book, and at times it didn't flow well. Perhaps this was in part due to the nature of the book being translation of conversations.
It has made me want to visit the country.

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Two weeks after completing reading this book, I am am still doing my best to work out why it was written! It was curiously interesting as a "country diary" but have no idea what it was attempting to achieve. Whilst I am in critical mode, I have to say that I found the translation did not flow. This may have been completely the original text at fault but it did not feel like it.
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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!!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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