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Publisher's Summary

When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn't Disneyland but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long, dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries. What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born or made?
Helen decides there is only one way to find out: she will give herself a year, trying to uncover the formula for Danish happiness. From child care, education, food and interior design to SAD, taxes, sexism and an unfortunate predilection for burning witches, The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, poignant record of a journey that shows us where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves.
Helen Russell is a journalist and former editor of She now lives in rural Jutland and works as a Scandinavia correspondent for the Guardian as well as writing a column on Denmark for the Telegraph.
©2015 Helen Russell (P)2015 Audible, Ltd
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Critic Reviews

"A lovely mix of English sensibility and Danish pragmatism. Helen seems to have understood more about the Danish character than I have! My only worry is that it will make everyone want to have a go and my holiday home area will get overcrowded." (Sandi Toksvig)
"Russell is possessed of a razor-sharp wit and a winning self-deprecation - two of the things that make this book such a delight." (The Independent)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By AR on 02-17-17

Entertaining but Brittle

Pleasant but superficial account of the author's first year in Denmark as a British expat. As a personal history, the book is glib, with very little attempt at plumbing depths of feeling or experience. The author writes in a bright, brittle style that may have been what she was used to as a staffer for a slick London magazine. She's also not as witty as she thinks she is. As an impersonal, journalistic account of contemporary Danish society, the book is entertaining, but slanted heavily towards the rosy. Russell doesn't bother to examine the negative implications of some of the national characteristics she describes, such as the pressure to conform and the dread of conflict. If you want a balanced look at Denmark and the Danes, you'll have to go elsewhere. Lucy Price-Lewis does a fine job with the narration.

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48 of 49 people found this review helpful

By Jennifer Soudagar on 11-13-15

Interesting content. Unfortunate delivery.

Where does The Year of Living Danishly rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book ranks right in the middle. Time well spent and very interesting, but not touching or miraculous or life changing.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I do wish that the author had read this book herself for the audiobook as there was a lot of subtle humor and personal musings that were totally lost in Lucy Price-Lewis's delivery. There were quite a few very funny moments - big and small - that managed to fall noticeably short. Knowing nothing about her beyond reading this book, I imagine that the author is very sharp-witted, fun and bold. This was a story about her personal life and it was unfortunate that it somehow felt flat and impersonal.

What three words best describe Lucy Price-Lewis’s performance?

Not well matched, too proper, lacking a flair for subtle humor.

Any additional comments?

I truly enjoyed taking a step into Danish culture and felt like the author hit every mark - from pastries to neighbors to politics to parenting. Her professional writing experience offered an unexpected quality of perspective and observation. I came to appreciate that her story wasn't just a meandering "year in the life", but followed a rather diligent and purposeful (but still lighthearted) path.

The concept of "hygge" (even if it was pronounced incorrectly) is a major theme that stands out as one of the only things I have any hope of embracing or emulating in my own life. I hope to do so though as it seems to be a wonderful thing! Unfortunately, most of the social norms and programs described could never exist outside of such a small and unique country. There is just no comparing Denmark to my fast-paced country suburb of New York City and I tried hard not to let the stark differences in maternity leave, work days, education and bakery offerings depress me.

A worthwhile read nonetheless!

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83 of 86 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Steve K on 11-04-15


I really have no interest in Denmark and I've never heard of the author but something told me to give it a go and I was glad I did. Always looked forward to getting time to listen to it again.

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14 of 15 people found this review helpful

By melisa on 11-04-15

Completely fascinating and bonkers

To start with the overly 'arch' reading got on my nerves - read too fast and with too much comic emphasis - it was all a bit 'Bridget Jones' and over-egged. However, I got used to it as the narrative was so compelling. Just incredibly fascinating story of burned-out London couple's relocation to Denmark. Despite the fact she is a journalist, it comes across as pseudo researched, and a bit cliched, everything taken at face value, defined and tied up neatly - assumptions and massive conclusions seem to have been built on minimal experience/research about 'how things are' - but non-the-less incredibly interesting as a memoir of a first year in the land of 'Cosy'.

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11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Ally on 03-12-17

Interesting and engaging

I really liked the way this book was set out, in months. I really enjoyed the research and statistics included, and the journalist approach of the author. I really valued the very grounded, down to earth, humanness it offered. Well worth the read/listen.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

By Michelle on 12-11-15


Having lived in Denmark myself this was a fun trip down memory lane. Danes are awesome and winters are bleak. Taxes are high but so is their standard of living. I enjoyed Helens humour and found myself giggling often.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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