Babette’s Feast and Other Anecdotes of Destiny by Isak Dinesen


Karen Blixen was a Danish author whose pen name was Isak Dinesen.  She was born in Denmark in 1885, but she moved to Kenya (British East Africa at that time) in 1914 with her fiancee.  She began writing while she was there and her most well-known book is Out of Africa which is an account of her life in Africa.  I haven’t read that one yet but it is high on my to-read list.  Babette’s Feast and Other Anecdotes of Destiny is a collection of five short stories, the most famous of which is Babette’s Feast about a French refugee chef who spends her entire 10,000 franc lottery prize to prepare a gourmet meal for the two Norwegian sisters who took her in many years before.  I thought it was the best story in this book and I’m looking forward to watching the movie.

The other stories were The Diver, Tempests, The Immortal Story and The Ring.  The Diver is about a young student who studies birds and tries to create wings so that he too can fly with the angels.  When that doesn’t work out, he ends up becoming a diver who earns money by searching for pearls.  His reflections on the beauty of fish in water are amazing.

 Perhaps I missed a lot of the meaning that these stories were meant to convey, but I just did not enjoy this book that much.  To me the stories seemed strange and I couldn’t figure out exactly what each story was trying to tell me.  Maybe each story requires the reader to spend more time reflecting on its meaning and I was unwilling to invest that time.  Or maybe I should have read the stories a second time to get more out of them, but I didn’t enjoy the stories enough to invest that much time in them. Karen Blixen’s life story is fascinating, though, and I encourage you to learn more about her.


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