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Heia - Steinunn Sigurardttir

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Heia - a shepherd at the edge of the world
Steinunn Sigurardttir
Paperback / softback
John Murray
UK Publication Date


The inspiring story of Icelandic sheep farmer, former model and feminist heroine Heida Asgeirsdottir has become a double prize-winning international bestseller.

As heard on Radio 4's Start the Week

I'm not on my own because I've been sitting crying into a handkerchief or apron over a lack of interested men. I've been made every offer imaginable over the years. Men offer themselves, their sons . . . drunk fathers sometimes call me up and say things like: "Do you need a farmhand?" "I can lift the hay bales" "I can repair your tractors". . .

Heida is a solitary farmer with a flock of 500 sheep in a remorseless area bordering Iceland's highlands. It's known as the End of the World. One of her nearest neighbours is Iceland's most notorious volcano, Katla, which has periodically driven away the inhabitants of Ljtarstair ever since people first started farming there in the twelfth century. This portrait of Heida written with wit and humour by one of Iceland's most acclaimed novelists, Steinunn Sigurardttir, tells a heroic tale of a charismatic young woman, who walked away from a career as a model to take over the family farm at the age of 23.

I want to tell women they can do anything, and to show that sheep farming isn't just a man's game.

Divided into four seasons, Heida tells the story of a remarkable year, when Heida reluctantly went into politics to fight plans to raise a hydro-electric power station on her land. This book paints a unforgettable portrait of a remote life close to nature. Translated into six languages, Heida has won two non-fiction prizes and has become an international bestseller.

We humans are mortal; the land outlives us, new people come, new sheep, new birds and so on but the land with its rivers and lakes and resources, remains.



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Steinunn Sigurardttir is one of Iceland's most highly acclaimed novelists and poets. Her first book The Thief of Time was an international bestseller and was made into a film starring Emmanuelle Beart. Three of her other novels - Place of the Heart, Yo-Yo and The Good Lover - have also been translated into English.

Heida is a force of nature . . . she has about her an honesty that is never less than enchanting
Sunday Times

A fierce account of what it means to hold the countryside in trust . . . [Heida is an] utterly charming personality . . . this is an inspiring story of resistance to a corporate Goliath, and [Heida] - with her forthright tone and irrepressible humour - makes a delightful David
Mail on Sunday

I had the feeling while reading it that Heida was in MY kitchen, idly chatting to ME and that I was getting to know her really well, as a close friend . . . It was a privilege to be 'talked to' as a friend and allowed to share a fine farmer's life for a few hours
Rosamund Young, author of THE SECRET LIVES OF COWS

A rare portrait of a woman possessed of frontier courage and a sense of humour and humility . . . revelatory and inspiring
The Herald

Heida comes across as a highly impressive person . . . Iceland is lucky to have this formidable guardian angel protecting its traditions and landscape
Daily Mail

Sharp and funny . . . this is an engrossing quick dispatch from an unusual life
The Riverside Way (The Riverside Bookshop blog)

What a story . . . a real-life Bathsheba from Far From the Madding Crowd, but undistracted by the endless queue of male suitors . . . this frank, unusual book details a year in her life
Muddy Stilettos

An engaging memoir . . . a beautifully written ode

A study in courage and determination

It is her deep connectedness to others - whether her family, her farmer neighbours, her dog, or the land itself - which drives the emotional heart of the book
Church Times

Keyword Index
Women shepherds - Iceland.|Shepherds - Iceland.
Country of Publication
Number of Pages
x, 308

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