Why Norway?

Cultural identity, and the many ways people explore and express their own, is one of the recurring themes in the Chloe Ellefson Mystery series.

When readers meet Chloe in Book 1, Old World Murder, she takes her own Norwegian heritage largely for granted. Her feelings evolve over time, and by Book 10, she is eager to learn more about her ancestors.

Mr. Ernst and I were lucky enough to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary with a trip to Norway arranged by Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.

We loved every minute in that beautiful country, but the place I was most reluctant to leave was Utne, in the Hardanger District of Hordaland County.

Utne, Norway.
The village of Utne marks the northern tip of the Folgefonna peninsula between the Hardangerfjord and one of its branches, the Sørfjord.

The charming village is home to the Utne Hotel. It opened in 1722, and may well be Norway’s oldest continuously operating inn.

Hotel Utne

The region is famous for its rich folk heritage, including Hardanger fiddles and exquisite textiles. Utne is home to the Hardanger Folkemuseum, which preserves and celebrates these traditions.

Tradtional folk clothing on display at the museum. The couple on the left are dressed as bride and groom.
The museum has a fine collection of Hardanger fiddles.

In addition to formal exhibits, the museum includes an open-air division. Most of the buildings have been moved from locations within the Hardanger region and restored on the museum grounds.

I wanted to get Chloe and her fiancé Roelke McKenna to Norway. When I started conceptualizing the 10th Chloe mystery, I knew what region they would explore. Quests both professional and personal send them to Utne.

Are you up for some armchair travel? I hope I captured a bit of the Hardanger area’s magic in Fiddling With Fate!

Fiddling With Fate cover

The book will be published on September 8, 2019. Stay tuned for more peeks behind the scenes.

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8 Responses to “Why Norway?”

  1. Nancy Olson Says:

    Looking forward to reading. My family farm, Velure is just down the road from Utne on the Sor Fjord. I have been to that museum years ago. I was just at Velure in May. I believe that the Hardanger area is the most beautiful in all of Norway. I also visited another family farm in Norheimsund. We stayed one night at the Ullensvang Hotel in Loftus, which is directly across the fjord from Velure.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Hi Nancy – how special to have family roots near Utne! It is absolutely gorgeous, and the folk culture phenomenal. We also visited Norheimsund. I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Norway.

  2. Diana Haustowich Says:

    Can’t wait to get it! Happy 20th Anniversary!! We just celebrated our 58th Anniversary. Love, Diana 🙂

  3. Jill Nisbet Says:

    Just finished reading the first chapter. The series is really interesting.. I am looking forward to September 8th! Have you found another publisher? I sure hope the series can go on!

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Hi Jill – So glad you’re enjoying the series. I’m looking forward to the release date too! I do want to continue the series, so as soon as I have any concrete information, I’ll share it here.

  4. Laura Larsson Says:

    Hei Kathleen, first as a fellow Badger, enjoyed the whole Chloe series. Your 10th is the most rewarding for me, as I just finish the book. I was both Vasa order& Sons of Norway Milw for close to 25 yrs. I was in the folk dancing group over yrs performing in the Folk Fair, Stoughton High School Gym, and many midsummers performances at Old World Wisc, day ending a meal given at the Finnish settlement. Also I was exchange student to Oslo, Noway. I have been to the stories location. 5 yrs ago, after yrs of failed ancestor farm name research, a Nevada roadtrip took me to SaltLake City and Mormon Library. 3 days assisted research with Norwegian on my left and a Swede on my right helped narrowed down to 2 farms east of area Chloe relatives are from. Once these library assistants learn I could speak both languages, no English was spoken. I left with a hugh headache each night. My exchange family had a cabin we frequently visited in the area. Turns out my ancestor farm is a short 10 min. Drive from there. So close to this farm, I always felt home at this cabin. I have a sixth sense sensitivity, so world places are like dajavu, I get all senses peaked with emotion. I also am a certified sound therapy teacher/practitioner, interested in folk music. Lastly, my grandmothers maiden name was Severson. My Norway ancestors correctly spelled it Syvertsen. I found it in the local church baptism records in Norway.Thank you for your writings. Laura L, Hot Springs Village, AR.
    P.S. Your next Book should be a Swedish immigrant midwife (my great grandma) with no doctor for 100 miles delivered both Indian and Caucasian babies. She learn herbal medicines from Indians. Her and brother were the first white children seen in Becker County, MN. The baby was passed around the tribe for inspection. They eventually ended up in Woodland, WI. The historical German stone/timber house has been moved to Saukville Pioneer Historical Village. It is a gift shop now, as I visited it this late September, during Harry Potter’s Days. Strange to step out of my car, to beards, long capes and wands. The whole village turn into Hogwarts!

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Hello Laura – Wow, what a list of connections! I’m so glad the series is resonating for you, and that Fiddling With Fate is your favorite yet. When I chose to make Chloe a Norwegian-American all those years ago, I had no idea what a rich and wonderful adventure I was starting. You obviously have some amazing stories on your family tree. Thanks for sharing!

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