On the face of it, a farmer's wife from Bury St. Edmunds in England and the curator of a museum in Denmark would not seem to have a lot in common. However, when Tina Hapgood writes a letter of enquiry, the letter is fielded by Professor Anders Larsen and lo and behold, their life-changing correspondence begins.
Initially the 2000-year-old Tollund Man is the subject of their exchanges, but over time their lives and concerns begin to dominate. From their respective marriages and families, to their views on history and archaeology, music and poetry, it all finds its way into their letters.
Well-crafted and thoughtful, this book is a moving reflection on lives well-lived and the joy of unexpected friendship.
This book was universally loved. Overall, people enjoyed its epistolary style and watching the gentle growth of their friendship in this way. Members came away wanting more and wishing for a sequel.
Most of us loved it ( one of the best we'd read) but not all. We could relate to the characters. Enjoyed the revelation of the letters. High quality writing. Original, interesting and credible.
Lots of discussion about the style of this book, the writing and receiving of letters etc.
A delightful read, enjoyed by all. Interesting subject to link the characters. Gentle and rewarding.
This book gave us a great discussion about relationships. Everyone seemed to enjoy the story, but some would have liked a little more to the ending. Did they meet, and did they meet each other's expectations
All group members thoroughly enjoyed the book. Great discussion around relationships was generated, loosely linked to the guiding questions. That our group is 60+ meant there were common experiences with Tina, and shared attitudes towards marriage and family.
This book was enjoyed by everyone who read it. It also produced a healthy discussion.
We loved this book, the style, characters, how the early casual enquiry developed into a deep friendship. It all seemed so honest and authentic that we felt we had a vested interest in the outcome and were disappointed that they never got to meet! Highly recommended.
Enjoyed by most of the group. A well-written book. The questions generated some worthwhile discussion in the group.
Extremely interesting story and way of writing it. Held us captivated until the end.
All enjoyed the book - indeed "well-crafted and thoughtful". A very light touch to explore an initially unlikely friendship between two people, who have reasons to question the direction of their lives. The letter-writing format gave it a pace - a considered and unrushed pace. Very well done.
Loved this book!!!
Mixed reaction to this one, most couldn't connect with the story. Two out of seven enjoyed it as found the conversational writing interesting.
A beautiful, tender and poignant book. Highly recommended.
For a simple story, this proved to be a polarising book. We either liked or disliked it. Many liked the subtle humour, simple human story, and the increasingly personal nature of the writing. Others thought it dull and lacking substance.
Our group loved this book. We liked the letter writing style to tell a story, and the way the relationship developed through the letter writing. We look forward to reading more by this new author.
Our group found this an enjoyable, easy read. Some described it as a 'slow burner', delightful in the way it gradually revealed the growing affection between the two characters through their letters to each other. Generally agreed that it sagged a little in the middle, and that there were moments of improbability. Discussion was lively, centering on issues of trust and fidelity.
We all loved it! This book stimulated animated and copious discussion. Several people said it did not grab them initially, but everyone persevered and quickly became fully absorbed. We all agreed that it is quite brilliant. We could have discussed it for hours!
Though many of us were ambivalent to begin with, with the letter format, we were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it a lot. It reminded some of us of 84 Charing Cross Rd. We thought their relationship and intimacy unfolded authentically. We liked how the background to their family situation was slowly revealed, as they bared their souls with raw honesty. We liked the mixture of daily life details, and philosophical ponderings. We liked that the ending was left open ended, and we would never know if they met. Some of us enjoyed knowing more about the Tollund man history.
Everyone enjoyed this book once they got into it.
Not very well liked, most of our group didn't manage to finish it. Didn't hold our attention, not invested in the characters.
Delightful, thoughtful book. Well-written with characters developing well through letters. Intelligent conversations via letters between 2 main characters. Promoted great discussion in meeting regarding the demise of letter writing. All of group looking forward to reading more by this author.
Lovely story that we all enjoyed.
We were touched. History was interesting. We were divided as to whether they met up or not. Unrealistic but enchanting fantasy.
We all enjoyed this book and thought the sole use of letters back and forth was effective in their communicating to each other. We learnt a lot about each other's thoughts and feelings than would have happened in a first-person narrative or third-person narrative. Although they had a good written relationship, there could be some doubt as to whether this would transition over to a physical relationship. Although most of us thought a physical meeting would eventuate.
Mixed reviews - some loved it, others struggled.
The book was an easy read and we all finished it! Our discussion was natural, free-ranging and on topic because there was a lot to to relate to. We'd be keen to read a sequel:-)
We generally all enjoyed the book, and found the research with the Tollund Man very interesting. All in all, a very successful read!
Our group all enjoyed this book. It started rather slowly but built to an intriguing end. The language and introspection of the two writers was excellent. While not all of our group originally enjoyed 'letters' as a style, we all loved this book by the end.
Most people found the book "just ok", although some liked it, especially the gradual unfolding of their vulnerability as they felt safe and heard. In this regard, some found that the letters worked really well as a literary device. It is worth a mention that the book inspired a discussion on fidelity and whether being faithful implies just the physical aspects of love, or the emotional relationship with someone, especially when they haven't met in person...
All enjoyed - a pleasant interlude from our mostly non-fiction reads. Plenty to discuss nevertheless. We were interested that it was a 70 year old's first novel.
Most liked the book a great deal. It was described as an ordinary exchange of letters leading to gentle and extraordinary tellings of life, experienced by 2 very different but sincere people.
Hard to get into. Slow to get started. All liked the book, but after much discussion with the questions, some members started to have misgivings! Interesting.
8 people were at the meeting and everyone loved the gentle/humanity aspect of this book. We don't usually agree on a book as we did on this one. Even so, it still created a lot of discussion. A couple of members remembered writing letters like that in the past, and discussed how that made you review your life. We felt the author was insightful and kind.
Great, moving and heart warming.
The reaction to the book was most interesting. We discussed the story for much longer than has happened for ages. One person absolutely ADORED the story, and others were not so keen. Most agreed that there were flaws in the storyline and gaps in believability. I think that the phrase we will remember for longer than the rest was page 200 - re the old tea cosy = knit yourself another!
A beautifully crafted story through correspondence between two strangers. A wonderful read.
Majority enjoyed it. Wonderfully contemplative in these 'Covid' times, and easy to relate to...our "peers" in age!
We all enjoyed the opportunity to read this delightful little book, and we discussed the principal characters at length, and their developing relationship. We had differing opinions about whether theirs would be a platonic friendship or a romantic relationship once they finally met, most thinking the latter. We all agreed on Daphne Trigg however and happily imagined what she'd look like! Though some had heard of the 'Tollund Man', several had not, and most 'googled' for extra information.