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The Englishman: Can love go the distance? (The Englishman series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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I happened to be in Finland in 1982 when part of this story takes place. It brought back vivid memories of that time: the food, the places, the difference in culture. All of that and more gives you a sense of Finnish life and how it differs from the new life that Kaisa was headed for.
The prose flows well, and a little bit simplistic, which makes the book ideal for an international audience.
Certain things are quite unique about this book. A contrast between Finnish and English mentalities. I thought the story explored nicely what it is to be young, and insecure. To me Kaisa came across as self-centrered, at times even selfish. Ironically, she criticised her father for failures she couldn't quite see in herself. Kaisa's family tensions have definitely added to the drama of the story.
I didn't learn much about Kaisa outside her romance, even her friendship with Tuuli seemed quite superficial. Yet, I still wanted to know how her relationship with Peter would develop. Because I think it's easy to make a herione likeable, but it's far more difficult to portray your character in a way that makes her seem like a real person. The author Helena Halme totallly excelled at this.
By Deborah Young "Debbie Young" (Gloucestershire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Englishman: Can Love Go The Distance? (Kindle Edition)
I automatically give five stars to any book that has me staying up way past my bedtime to read it and abandoning anything else that I'm meant to be doing in order to get to the end, and this was one of those books.
Knowing that this was based on a true story and had started life as a nostalgic blog, I read it in a slightly different way to a totally fictitious novel, not judging it on plot, characterisation, etc, but enjoying the clear evocation of the various sittings (Sweden, Finland, England) and the period in which it took place. Being of a similar vintage to the heroine, the references to contemporary music (listened to on cassettes or vinyl, of course) and other telling features, such as a plastic phone with a cord and push buttons, were especially meaningful to me. It's startling to realise how quickly we've all come to depend on modern communications technology - I'd forgotten the tension of waiting weeks for a letter to arrive from a boyfriend, having no other way of getting in touch!
Although it's clear from the blurb that there will be a "Reader, I married him" ending, Helena Halme keeps the reader in nailbiting suspense as she relates the many obstacles in the path to Kaisa and Peter's happiness. In the 21st century, there wouldn't be the same difficulties - mobile phones, for a start, would make keeping in touch easy-peasy, and the Royal Navy would not be regarding Finnish girls as potential Soviet spies! These period details certainly add extra tension and interest.
Like most Nordic types, the author, a Finn, is clearly very much at ease with the English language, and this is a really well-written book. There's also something very matter-of-fact about the way the romance is related, and I wondered whether that comes from being written in what isn't the author's second language. Though the book is written in the third person, young Kaisa's naivety and innocence is effectively conveyed, without the story ever becoming sentimental. There's also a subtle evocation of the sense of foreignness between the two young lovers, with silly little everyday things becoming an issue, just how they do in real life e.g. Kaisa's incredulity when she first sees Peter make a sandwich, putting a slice of bread on top, instead of leaving it open, Nordic style.
In a way, the end of the story is only just the beginning of Kaisa's adventure. The prospect of a life as Navy wife to a man of your own nationality would be daunting enough, but to become a naval wife to a foreigner would be an even greater strain. I'm really hoping for a sequel so that we can see how the newlyweds get on!
Having read this in paperback, I'd like to add how much I liked the production and design of the book - fab cover, in a strokeable finish, and an interior that was gentle on the eye, even when staying up far too late to read it!
Disclosure: I was given a complimentary copy of the paperback of this book in return for an honest review.
I received an ebook copy for an honest review.