Heida

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Member Reviews

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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I really enjoyed this, it gives such an interesting insight into Heida's life & the life of a farmer in countryside that isn’t exactly easy a lot of the time. It reads as if Heida is talking to you & her personality really keeps you engaged & interested. The Icelandic language and place or people's names can be a little difficult to keep track of, perhaps a map would have been useful, but I more or less managed to keep track. There are a few instances of sentences or phrases being repeated which I feel could have been edited out, but it does all read in a consistent, friendly voice which helps.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about the life of an interesting woman fighting to keep her life & home against a big corporation trying to take part of her land, getting involved with local politics as well as meeting her family and friends who all help her carry on farming as normal in a difficult situation.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review,
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What an interesting book. 
Heida is such a fascinating woman, so independant, so resilient.
I very much enjoyed this autobiography, particularly the descriptions of landscape and countryside.
Thank you for a review copy.
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It's not often I'll read a biographical book but I was curious about this one. I enjoyed the casual style of it and having that insight into Heida's life and mind, 
Just goes to remind you how differently people life not that far away from you!
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I love this woman! Heida - a true story of a solitary female farmer in Iceland. What a woman - taking over a farm in her 20's, walking away from a potentially glittering career in modelling, battling politics and a corporation that wants to destroy her farm and the area she loves.

Heida tells us quite honestly about her life from growing up on the farm, and her life in general basically, fighting for what she believes in. She lives so remotely, and just loves her life.

I found this book really heartwarming, honest, and I'm just in absolute awe of this woman.
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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.
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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.
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