The Year of Living Danishly

  • by Helen Russell
  • Narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis
  • 9 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


What the Critics Say

"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

Cynical Brit softened by snegl and hygge. A 10!

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

So few books I purchase on Audible have been a disappointment (swiftly returned the handful of naff ones), so rather unfair to compare to many delights clustered in my Cloud. This is an excellent listen balancing "experience" (Helen and LegoMan, their initial shivering, damp arrival in mysteriously darkened Sticksville-on-Sea) and "research" and statistical analysis. The interviews with a plethora of fascinating folk were amazing!

Glad I did not read the book as the super-abundance of names, titles, institutes and websites might -- just might -- have thrown a wobbly into the delight of the couple's month by month delightful discoveries.

I am contemplating selling every stick of furniture, my IRA and my car and kayak to Denmark to plead with Lego HQ to hire me as a washroom attendant ... and a well paid, tax and 25% VAT added paying, beer and snegl scarfing, bike-riding washroom attendant at that.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Year of Living Danishly?

The one word which is virtually unheard in USA and the one word the Danes prize above all else: Tradition. Tradition is, literally, everything.

We Americans are such a very young country; I only came up with a dismal few -- Super Bowl Sunday, Black Friday and the ritual horrified murmurs to diet after a waist-expanding a Thanksgiving dinner.

What does Lucy Price-Lewis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Lucy is not afraid to scream. I loved her narration! Spot on and well done!

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Okay, if you must: "From Clueless and Clenched to Hyggled and Healthy?

(I beg of Hollywood, please do not under any circumstances place this book within reach of Judd Apatow.)

Any additional comments?

I am mad as heck and sleep deprived, too! Not only was I up three nights in a row until 2am because I could not stop listening (" more month, just onnnne more month..."), but Ms Russell had the temerity to end the book and thus Ms Price-Lewis stopped narrating! Okay, checking kayaks to Jutland (I live in Missouri, but that is such a minor detail...)

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- C. A. Cameron "catheriamjourneywoman"

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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- Jennifer Soudagar

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-09-2015
  • Publisher: Audible Studios