Beyond sings the woods is so poetically written, something that is difficult to do in a novel. What is interesting is that the prose itself is pretty straightforward no embellishments but still there is something undoubtedly poetic in it. Usually it is the short stories that have lyrical characteristics, but this novel has poetic brilliance. Nevertheless, it functions like a novel. The narrative follows a life of a family living in a village. Sounds simple? Yes, but the author really succeeds in making the people and the surroundings in the novel alive. There is something for everyone: love, conflicts and great descriptions of nature.
This novel is also a great study of human character. In many ways, it reminds me on the great Russian realists. It is always easy to write about literature if you compare one author with another, but I cannot resist comparing it with Микола Васильович Гоголь (Gogol) and his masterpiece Dead Souls ( Мёртвые души).
What I liked in particular is that element of something new. It is always interesting to read something about a culture you're not familiar with, especially if it happens to be in such a great book. Literature that is not written in English often gets put aside. Because of importance that English has today, it is a fact that you have a better chance to be known if you are an author writing in English. This novel sparked my interest in Scandinavian culture. For me it was endlessly fascinating to read a novel set in Norway There are some many aspect of Norwegian culture that are interesting and this novel was a great introduction into it.
This novel is the first novel of trilogy, but even if you don't plan to read all three novels you can read this one. I only read this one and the story didn't feel unfinished.
I've read this novel in a Croatian translation so I guess that the original must be even better. I envy those who know Norwegian language.