As I conveyed to my father, aside from being on the above list that I’ve come to respect, the books are set in Scandinavia, by a Scandinavian author, and Undset was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928 primarily based on these books. What’s not to like?
Per Wikipedia, I read the poorer translation. Charles Archer first translated the trilogy into English in 1927, and it’s never been out of print since then. This is the version I picked up with a bit of Christmas money. Tiina Nunnally released a new translation in 2006, which critics apparently like better. I really liked how the language (in the translation I read) fit the story; I don’t really think that should be a basis for disliking this translation. However, I haven’t read the more modern translation, either.
I was slow to get caught up in this book: It was daunting to find three endnotes on the first page of the novel! Once I got past that, however, it was a fun, quick read with deep meaning.
Now off to start the second volume, The Wife!