This author has a gift for taking the elusive, repetitive runes of the Kalevala and weaving riveting personal tales of the women. All too often in many cultures, women are overlooked. The author presents her characterizations in the form of short stories that are highly readable and told from the too often mute woman's point of view.
The 8 tales presented here are not direct quotes from the epic poem, but, are very true in spirit to the collected folk tales. Because of the difference in medium (prose versus verse) the characters have a chance to come to life - Louhi in all her majesty and power, the sad Aino, silly Kylli - times when women were bartered to the men with the most power. You get glimpses into their sad daily lives of hard work, and their all-to-few moments of joy. Who among us can imagine the pain of being a young lady at that time, knowing that you would likely be given to some old, powerful man in marriage? Or the agony of falling in love with someone only to be told that you would be forced to marry another?
For a Finnish-American, I would put this book high on my list of must-reads, mainly because of the clarity it brings to so many of the Kalevala heros and heroines. Culturally, it also gives a clear picture of what daily life for so many was like, and for some, is still like (in the eastern portions of Finland).