The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

Review published on October 9, 2016.

We are often told that different countries have different levels of happiness and satisfaction, which is the result of many factors, ranging from education,environment, jobs and job satisfaction to how people relate to each other. We are also told that Denmark is one of the happiest, most fulfilled places in which to live.

The writer Helen Russell is given the chance to find out about this for herself when her partner, who works for Lego, is offered a job there. So, forgoing her career as a relatively successful writer for newspapers, she moves 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 serves her well, for the book has an accessible tone, while also being informative. Although the book is largely written in the format of a diary of her experiences, there is also room for facts about Denmark and how those facts relate to life in Britain. We learn that although the work-live balance in Denmark is better, the relentless dark winter days are not for everyone. Further, while 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. This obviously changes how she and her partner see their places in the world, and they 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.

Ben Macnair 3/3

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
Icon Books 9781785780233 pbk Dec 2015

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