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 MarieClaire.co.uk. 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.
"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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Interesting content. Unfortunate delivery.
This book ranks right in the middle. Time well spent and very interesting, but not touching or miraculous or life changing.
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.
Not well matched, too proper, lacking a flair for subtle humor.
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!
- Jennifer Soudagar
As an expat in Denmark myself, it was both interesting and entertaining to hear from another expat's perspective. I really like hearing the facts and figures to boost her anecdotal observations. I liked how open and honest she is about her life and her experience. I laughed. I cried. It was a good listen.
I'd recommend it, and have, to anyone who wants to know more about Denmark, or just the expate experience in general.
Lucy Price-Lewis had a very pleasant voice, but her Danish pronunciation was almost unintelligible.
- Amazon Customer