Norway’s #1 best-selling title

Astrid Hekne, a nineteen year old girl, lives in Butangen, an isolated village in Norway, in 1879. She yearns for knowledge and dreams of a life with more to offer than giving birth to a horde of children and dying working in the fields. Perhaps a future as the wife of the young local priest …

Butangen’s priest Kai wants to bring his congregation closer to the modern church even if it’s against their will. An austere but warm church is essential in his plan and beautiful Astrid as his wife could be his link to the locals.

Built in 1170, the old stave church of Butangen is one of the few remaining examples of early Christianisation, unique in its architecture including effigies of pagan deities carved into the wooden walls. Even the bells – two sister bells moulded in the 16th century in memory of the Siamese twins Halfrid and Gunhild Hekne – are special. There is the legend that they ring of their own record when danger is immanent.

In Germany the University of Dresden is highly interested in art history. With Kai’s approval they buy the stave church and send a student, Gerhard Schönauer, to Butangen to supervise the dismantling of the church and its resurrection in Dresden.

Astrid is fascinated by Gerhard. He behaves and smells differently to anyone else but on the other hand is he the one who will take the sister bells away from her village. These magical, sonorous and powerful bells donated by her ancestors. The young woman strongly feels that she can’t let them leave, and so she undertakes whatever seems necessary to keep the Sister Bells at home…

All three of them have to struggle with their good intentions, with their wish for a positive future and their close connection to the past.

Lars Mytting

Lars Mytting