Barbara is the only novel by Jorgen-Frantz Jacobsen. Set in the 1700s and originally written in Danish, the manuscript was left behind on his death in 1938. This excellent translation by W. Glyn Jones was published over 70 years later. The story is based on a Faroese legend, “Beinta and Peder Arrheboe”.
Barbara is the widow of two former pastors when the ship Fortuna arrives, bringing Poul, the new pastor. Poul is warned about Barbara, but he falls for her charms. Barbara has genuine feelings for Poul but cannot resist the attention of other men. When ships come to port she is seduced, like many other women, by the sailors. Barbara and Poul marry, but she falls for Andreas and leaves with, him.
A story of infatuation and vanity, it is, as the cover suggests, a story of a Faroese Moll Flanders; though Barbara has very little moral sense, she has a certain charm about her, and her story and interactions with Poul and Andreas make the novel come alive. There are nice descriptions of life and customs on the Faroe Islands. The dialogue –believable, concise, and interesting – and descriptions create a great sense of time and place. I enjoyed the read, even though I felt it was sad in places, and would recommend it for its historical and geographical interest.