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The Cosmopolitan Islander Paperback – November 17, 2015
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About the Author
M. P. Tonnesen is an award-winning writer and business woman living on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. She authors contemporary fiction, writes business and lifestyle articles for magazines, as well as advises companies on organisational change and communication. She has a M.Sc. degree in International Business and Intercultural Communication. She has also studied Creative Writing at London School of Journalism, Faber Academy and Isle of Man College. She is originally from Denmark, but grew up in a multicultural family and has lived in Brussels, the Middle East, and London before moving to the island with her family in 2011. Her debut novel, The Cosmopolitan Islander, is inspired by her local and cosmopolitan journeys. She enjoys reading and telling good stories, travelling, and eating dark chocolate. She also dabbles in yoga, pilates, and juggling two kids.
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Chloe finds herself on the Isle of Man – an island in the fierce and unforgiving Irish Sea – with her husband Konrad, they have relocated for Digital, his new employer. By birth she is Danish, but has spent much of her life in buzzy London, so this quiet island is going to be a challenge, there is no doubt. She is destined for expat life on a rocky outcrop, rocky perhaps in more ways than she could have imagined. Chloe soon finds herself part of the Digi Divas group largely comprising Scandinavian wives of the executives at Digital. It’s a way to socialise and get to know other incomers to the island.
She is now pretty much a full-time mum to Viktor but as we are taken on a journey of her past, we can see the relationships she has had, the work commitments that have driven her at times into the ground, and the complexities of the relationship with her mother (which eventually culminated in Chloe cutting her maternal bonds at the point of her marriage to Konrad). These events set the scene for where she finds herself in the present, largely marooned on the Isle of Man and debating her future.
The vagaries of life – the pressure to maintain a big job whilst juggling other factors in her life – soon come cascading down on her and she has to steer her emotional boat through stormy waters. These are uncharted and scary territories for her.
The book is in part an examination of a couple relationship, husband and wife trying to find their path through life, and it is well observed. The writing is strong and clear and certainly kept me hooked in to see how the relationship dilemmas pan out. The good writing style can, however, be marred at times by curious turns of phrase such as ‘…we still don’t have a full picture of neither the current situation nor the future scenario“..and “upwards and onwards” (I only know it as onwards and upwards) or nothing venture, nothing win...These of course can be ironed out in the next edition but do tend to interrupt the flow of fluid reading.
The whole story is focussed on setting Chloe’s experience within a bigger context, so that the reader can understand why she might be driven to think and act the way she does and go on to make her unique life choices. I found the relationship dilemmas with Konrad interesting, Chloe’s struggle to find a life for herself well thought through, but overall the narrative seemed unsure whether ultimately this was a book destined to be an exploration of a couple dynamic, or a bodice ripper.
Chloe certainly is a cosmopolitan traveller and in terms of TripFiction the various locales serve as a backdrop for the storyline, though are not “characters’ per se. The cover is absolutely Isle of Man. An enjoyable read.
This story reads more like a memoir than a fiction novel. We follow the protagonist Chloe through her relationships, jobs, and everything in between, including flashbacks of her childhood. It delves into her emotions, and why she does or doesn't behave a certain way, her struggles with being a career woman and not, as well as a guilt that society and her own family puts on her about working. We hear about the struggles with men in the business world behaving as many still do--making women less important than they. We learn about the various men in and out of Chloe's life. We learn about her dysfunctional relationship with her mother.
Most women will understand this story, and may even relate to it. Of course, being a bit older than the character in this novel, I kept thinking I could've told her all this information and saved her the trouble of experiencing it. But, as we all know, everyone has to go through the pain and learn these lessons on their own. The topics discussed throughout the book, though, are accurate and I'm certain are still being experienced today as the generation before them, and before them, etc. down through the decades of the 20th century. It's not new news. What it is, is the life and loves of Chloe Holms, our protagonist. There are probably many Chloe Holms out there who may like to see how the original one handled her situations and where she ended. I, for one, am glad she was strong enough to make her marriage work and be an example for those who feel that if things get tough, they can just walk away. Marriage isn't a fairy tale and if anyone believes that, they should never get married.
Brilliantly written, accurate for most professional women, character-based, literary and memoirish. Decide for yourself. If you're a fan of any of this, you will probably enjoy The Cosmopolitan Islander. Maybe if I were 30 or 35 years younger, I would've been a much bigger fan.