I started this book long ago as a nightly read-aloud with my wife. We had each previously read Iceland's Bell (I loved it, whereas she thought it was merely good, and a bit boring). Determined to convert her, I launched this book upon her; short of the halfway mark, it was shelved.
Time passed, and meanwhile the book lingered in my imagination.
I finally got back to it, and I'm glad I did. I can say without hesitation that Bjartur of Summerhouses is one of the greatest protagonists of the novel form; he should be held alongside Don Quixote, and Rochester, and Milton's Satan (not a true protagonist, or a novel, but still), and Pickwick, and Jude the Obscure. Bjartur stands--foolishly, obstinately, and heroically--unmoving as the world changes around him, and his story becomes the story of his country, seen through the eyes of its most stalwart and enduring (if not endearing) crofter.
Admittedly not the book for everyone, but for me this was a very fine read indeed.
Independent People by Halldór Laxness