Kristina from Duvemåla - A Review

Kristina was played by Helen Sjöholm in Sweden.
Kristina was played by Helen Sjöholm in Sweden. | Source

The Emigrant Novel Series by Wilhelm Moberg

If you want to read the Wilhelm Moberg novels in the series. These are the titles:

  • The Emigrants (1949)
  • Unto a Good Land (1952)
  • The Settlers (1956)
  • The Last Letter Home (1959)


”Kristina from Duvemåla” is a musical written by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, the male singers known from ABBA, and the duo behind musicals like "Chess" and "Mamma Mia!" I could say that "Kristina from "Duvemåla" is more than just a musical. It contains folk tunes, symphonies and musical theater.

The musical is based on a series of Swedish novels. The novels are over 2000 pages and written by the Swedish author Wilhelm Moberg. This is a story you have to know about if you live in Sweden or in one of the surrounding countries. One of my teachers said that everyone should have read these four novels before the age of 25. So I did.

In the late 1990's and early 2000's this musical was played in the cities Malmo, Stockholm and Gothenburg in Sweden. The Music from "Kristina from Duvemåla" has also been performed in concerts in the Royal Albert Hall in London, England and in Carnegie Hall, New York. In year 2012 it premiered at the Swedish Theater in Helsinki, Finland. I had the opportunity to watch this four hour long musical in February 2012. It was an amazing experience and something I'll remember for a long time.

The Story

The story is about people living in the village Duvemåla in Sweden in the 1850's. One of them is Kristina, who is a young woman. She meets the young man Karl Oskar and the two fall in love. They decide to get married and start a future together, since Karl Oskar gets the opportunity to inheritage his father's farm. It turns out to be a very hard life as the harvest years are bad. Even if they work hard every day, they don't seem to be able to put food on the table for their children.

Like Kristina and her family, the other people in the village are poor too, and it's hard for everyone to see a future living in Sweden. Karl Oskar has a younger brother Robert, who is dreaming about moving to USA and look for gold. Over there, people are rich and they have food and clothes. Robert reads about the wonderful country in the west and he's trying to learn some English.

Karl Oskar is thinking about moving, too, but he doesn't know how to tell it to his wife Kristina. One day their lives are drastically changing, when one of their daughters dies from eating too much porridge. They then decide to pack their belongings and leave for America. Many of the other villagers are doing the same thing.

It's a long way to travel from a small village in Sweden to New York on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. They are spending months together on a small ship. People are sick and some are even dying. Even Kristina is almost loosing her life during the trip.

Finally they arrive to the United States. They don't know anyone and they can't speak the language. Eventually they settle down and things are slowly getting better.

Robert and his friend Arvid are travelling to California to dig for gold. Their plan is to get rich and return home to Sweden. Four years later Robert returns to the home of Kristina and Karl Oskar. He has a bunch of money in his bag, but it turns out that the money is false. In the musical he sings "The gold turned into sand". robert also lost his friend in the desert on the way to California.

Kristina is giving birth to several children during the years. She has one miscarriage, and after that her doctor recommends her to not have any more children. The hard work and all her births has made her body weak, and one more pregnancy could cost her life. Kristina and Karl Oskar's love is strong and Kristina gets pregnant once more.

My Thoughts

This is a very sad story, but the emigration to USA is a big part of our history. One third of the population in Sweden moved to USA during the later part of 19th century. It must have been a hard time and Björn and Benny has done a great job writing this musical. Nobody could have done it better. The story is very touching and the music is wonderful. ”Kristinafrom Duvemåla” is something you have to see and hear to understand. I have also read the novels and watched movies made from the novels, but to experience this musical live is unforgettable.

Medley From the Musical in Helsinki

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Comments 12 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Very interesting Made and it does sound like a sad story indeed. I had no idea that many moved to the U.S. in the 19th Century. Is this on DVD? I hope so. I'll look for it. Thanks for the information and review.

Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi Bill, I'm not sure if the musical is on DVD yet. It's playing until 23th May in Helsinki this year. There is probably a CD with the songs from the musical. (There are Swedish movies made in the 1970's on DVDs, but there isn't any music in them.) I added the novels to my hub if someone would be interesting in reading them. Thank you for visiting. :)

AudraLeigh 3 years ago

Swedishhings here! Great job! is a lovely language...don't hear it often here. I watched the video...the leads and ensemble had beautiful voices. Those members of ABBA went on to do great things for the stage! And, you dod great t

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for your review

Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi Audra, this musical is both in Finland Swedish and "Sweden Swedish". Some of the actors/singers are from Sweden and some are from Finland. Only 5% of the population in Finland are Swedish speaking. The woman who plays Kristina and sings at the end of the video is Finnish speaking, but she does a great job acting and singing in Swedish. Björn and Benny are great musicians. Thank you so much, Audra! Have a wonderful weekend! :)

Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Thank you for stopping by, Mhatter99.

DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Most interesting and challenging facing such changes and going forward to

Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Thank you for reading this hub, DDE.

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

Hi Made, I actually read this review yesterday but didn't have a chance to comment...Well done my friend! You brought the story to live with your review and what a fascinating story it is.

Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Linda, thank you coming back here to leave a comment. The story is great. I have read the books, watched the movies and seen the musical. I wish you nice weekend! :)

Ausseye 3 years ago

H;i Madeinheven;

The musical is a song about living, gold is but our dreams, nothing to do with gold. Am sitting on a gold claim but am pondering the earth, my son want s me to go for it but I ponder!! The life we lead is better than any gold we find, we give and then get a return. Gold makes it unreal and there’s no music in that. Sad tale and yet I might just get that bunch of gold, why cause my kind and generous son asked, what moves a soul to do is beyond gold. Loved your hub about human endeavour, but bloody America they could have chosen a better destination, AUSTRALIA da land of DREAM TIME. And yes the there is gold there but other things distract, like love, empathy and ethics. I smile at your hub and think ice is good!!!!

Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Ausseye, I always love reading your comments. Gold is a dream. Ice is very real and more reachable - at least when you live in a country like Finland. LOL! I agree, they should have gone to Australia instead. Thank you so much. Have a great weekend! :)

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