Book Review – The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
Icon Books – 6 out of 10
We are often told that different countries have different levels of happiness, and satisfaction, caused by all types of factors, ranging from education,environment, jobs and job satisfaction, to how people relate to each other, and we are also told that Denmark is one of the happies, most fulfilled places in which to live.
The writer Helen Russell is given the chance to find out when her partner, who works for Lego is offered a job there, so forgoing her career as a relatively successful writer for newspapers, she goes to Denmark for a year, to see if the land of long, dark nights, lego, cured herring, and pastries really is a land of new opportunities.
Russell’s background as an editor for Marie Claire does her well, for the book has that level of accessible tone, whilst also being informative. So, although it is largely written in the format of a diary of her experiences, there is also room for facts about Denmark, and how those relate to live in Britain. So we learn that although the work-live balance in Denmark is better, the relentless dark winter days are not for everyone, although there are fewer people in Denmark, the sense of community is often stronger, so there are pros and cons to each place.
The end of the book sees massive changes in Russell’s own life, as she becomes a mother, and obviously this changes how she and her partner see their places in the world, and adopt Denmark as the place to bring up their child. This book was an interesting read, with much to say about modern life, and how adopting practices from other cultures can add to our own.