Amtmannens Døtre by Camilla Collett

This is my review of the classic Amtmannens Døtre by Camilla Collett. 

The book
Amtmannens døtre, or The District Governor’s Daughters, is a Norwegian classic. It was written in 1854, and it is about the two youngest daughters of a District Governor. The main character is Sofie, who is the youngest daughter. She’s sort of wilful and upset that she is expected to do what her parents tell her. That she has to marry the man they decide on, that she can’t behave like a man, and do what she wants, sort of. A young man, Georg Kold, goes to their house to be their teacher. He tutors mainly the son, Edvard, and Sofie, and he gets along well with Edvard, but he cannot figure out Sofie, who doesn’t really want to learn, and then suddenly wants to learn everything. They have a sort of tempestuous relationship. Meanwhile Sofie is surrounded by other suitors and her parents are trying to push her in the direction they want her to go. And it’s a look at arranged marriages, and the unfairness of them.

So I have a gripe, but it isn’t necessarily specific to this book, but a lot of 1800s love stories, if people just TALK to each other, they can solve their stupid issues. Jesus Christ.

Anyway, gripe over. So I liked the story. It sort of dipped in the middle, but I liked it. I really liked Sofie, the main character. She’s very spunky and annoyed and tough. And she’s sweet and kind and just this lovely young woman who also feels very trapped in the life that she has been born into and tries hard to be dutiful, but also follow her own passion.

I was really annoyed with Kold. He is such a fucking idiot. I feel like you can tell that the book was written by a woman by how dramatic and ridiculous Kold was. He was very impressionable and he was very scared of how he was perceived, which basically created problems for himself. He and Sofie eventually fall for each other, but his anxiety of looking young and foolish to his friend basically sabotages the relationship. And when he can’t get his way he turns into a dramatic and foolish child.

I feel like the ending was just what the book needed. Sofie has basically seen that her oldest sisters were forced into marriages that make them unhappy, and Amalie has married for love, but that also makes her unhappy. So Sofie makes a choice that might not be very romantic or dramatic, but it is the best choice for her and it might even make her happy. I think she realizes that she is indeed trapped in her situation, and she has to make the best of it, and the best choice she can. So she’s a very mature and clever, and I loved her for that.

It annoyed me that it wasn’t split into chapters. I don’t know why it was structured that way, I don’t feel like splitting it into chapters would have ruined it, and it just annoyed me so much.


It was quite good. I’m glad I’ve read it. I loved Sofie. I loved her mother, who is a complete piece of work. I really liked how Collett had written Kold, as a spoiled little shit. Anyway, I’m glad I’ve read this. I feel like I should sort of tick off a list or something. And if you want to read Norway's first feminist novel I think it is translated to English.