So I’ve decided to continue the Book-A-Week thing, and this year started off in Copenhagen, so what better book to read than:
1) The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell.
It’s a fairly undemanding tale of a London-based couple in their 30s leaving to go and live in Denmark for a year, after the husband gets a job working for Lego. There’s quite a bit that is entertaining and plenty of little details about Denmark that bring it to life: I loved the rules about how you can (or can’t) hang flags from other countries, for example, or the various weird rituals and ceremonies; & there are some quality stats that make you think you are living in the wrong country; not to mention there are some recurring characters that you start to look forward to coming back.
But it’s all very formulaic – not just the monthly structure, but each chapter is exactly the same (introductory bit, arbitrary bit of ‘research’ / chatting to a Danish expert, closing bit with ‘learning points’) and while that works for the first few, it gets tired rapidly. And there isn’t enough drama in the narrative arc to sustain genuine interest to the very end. It was fun to read when in Denmark, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to read it if I wasn’t a massive fan of the country (or thinking of moving)…