A gentle story of developing friendship between Tina, a middle-aged East Anglian housewife, and Anders, a Danish museum curator. A shared interest in the ‘Tollund Man’ archaeological find of 1952 (housed in the Silkeborg museum in Denmark) sparks their initial correspondence, and this epistolary novel then unfolds in letter/email form between the two characters. They share detailed descriptions of their day to day lives and — as they learn to trust one another — their regrets, unfulfilled plans, loves and unexpected crises. The book describes the tenderness of finding a soul mate in later life.
This novel would appeal to readers who are drawn to character driven tales, rather than those with complicated and action-packed storylines. It is a slow paced story, one to savour and to reflect upon.
I very much enjoy books about friendship, particularly between unlikely characters who might not ordinarily have anything to do with one another. It reminds me strongly of ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society’ in which letter-writing is also the format of the book, and a vehicle for developing connection between two individuals. I adore the fact that Tina and Anders encourage each other to ‘experience a life well lived’, and that because of this encouragement, there was hope for change in both their lives, even though they have fewer years ahead of them than behind them. The knowledge gained about early archaeological discoveries, in this case ‘The Tollund Man’, was another plus, and I went on to read up more about the ‘bog people’, of which there are actually over 150 in all.
It takes some time (a couple of chapters) for the book to get into its ‘groove’. Tina’s first letter to the Danish museum and the subsequent reply from Anders talk a lot about the ‘Tollund Man’, and you do wonder where on earth the story will go from there. As the letters become more personal, my enjoyment of the book increased. Please don’t let this put you off!
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Cherie has read a large number of BDS titles through her book group and her role on the BDS Book Selection Committee. She is particularly keen on character-driven fiction, dystopian fiction and also those with darker themes.View more reviews