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Monday, April 16, 2018

Review: The Year of Living Danishly

The Year of Living Danishly is a memoir by Helen Russell about her move to Denmark with her husband. Russell is a freelance journalist, and her husband decided to take a job with Lego in Jutland and the story of her move comes along with her attempt to investigate why the Danes are the happiest country in the world.

It's quite clear early on that Russell loves to exaggerate for what she imagines to be comic effect. Early on in her move to the country, she makes statements like "not knowing where the bakeries are." Of course, anyone with a smartphone always knows where everything is, and she later admits that, completely destroying her credibility with me.

The book is not without redemption and facts. She does interview several people about their happiness (in very unscientific fashion, of course), and gives you a good overview of Danish society including the warts (an incredibly high divorce rate, dreary winters that not even a sunlamp could cure), and perhaps a high degree of uniformity (right down to the baby names needing to be a on a list provided by the government). But overall, the society seems well constructed and stress free.

I enjoyed the glimpse into a move by an English speaking country into a Scandinavian one. I'm not sure I needed the embellishments and exaggerations, so I won't recommend this book.

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