I saved this book for last because I couldn’t imagine any other book ever living up to it. Every time I read it, which is every couple of years, I am blown away by how incredible it is. Really. If you haven’t read Ronia, go do it. Now.
Originally Ronja Rovardotter, the book was published in 1981 and translated by Patricia Crampton. Once upon a time, it was translated as Kirsty the Robber’s Daughter. Woffor did un do that? Thankfully, the 1985 translation reverted the name to Ronia.
What is it that makes Ronia the best book?
There is humor: Only Noddle-Pete stubbornly refused to roll in the snow. “I may die anyway,” he said, “and I want to do it with the dirt I’ve got on me.”
There is wonder: She laughed silently because rivers and forests were there. She could scarcely believe it.
There is hope: She thought happily before she closed her eyes, Tomorrow I’ll be getting up again!
There is growing up: The world was bigger than Matt. It was so big that it took your breath away.
There is friendship: She remembered how things had been before, when she was alone and the woods were enough for her. How long ago that seemed now! Now she needed Birk to share everything with.
There are troubles with children: “You can’t do anything with children these days. They do as they like – you just have to get used to it. But it’s not easy.” (Matt to Borka)
There are struggles: Then Ronia became desperate. “Life is something you have to take care of — don’t you realize that?”
There is loss: But Matt walked up and down the stone hall weeping mightily and shouting, “He’s always been here! And now he’s not!”
There are magical creatures: “Woffor did un do that?” say the rumphobs.
There is magic in the forest: The woods in the spring night felt full of secrets, full of magic and other strange and ancient things. There were dangers there, too, but Ronia was not afraid.
Some combination of all this makes Ronia the most satisfying book I have ever read, and a big part of why I wanted to fully explore all of Astrid Lindgren’s works.
This book concludes the Astrid Lindgren Thru-Read of 2015. More thoughts on completion will be coming soon.