Posted by: janesandell | August 6, 2008

Between Two Seas

The last book I read was Between Two Seas by Marie-Louise Jensen.  The author is half English/half Danish and the book is set in the two countries at the end of the nineteenth century.  The heroine is Marianne, the illegitimate daughter of Esther.  At the start of the novel they are living in Grimsby but the action really begins after Esther’s death when Marianne sets sail for Denmark in search of her unknown father.

In my opinion, the book’s strength is in its description.  I’ve not been to Grimsby or to anywhere (except Copenhagen airport!) in Denmark so I can’t comment on the accuracy of the description but it painted a picture in my head.  I’m predisposed to envisage the sea but Marie-Louise Jensen certainly created a clear setting for me in the north Danish fishing village of Skagen.

The problem I have with the book is its lack of depth.  Everything just seemed a bit too easy.  Marianne leaves Grimsby with limited money, speaking no Danish and not knowing where Skagen is but somehow everything falls into place and she arrives with little difficulty.  Fortuitously, as she nears her destination, she meets a local artist who shares her ability to speak French.  I agree that none of this is impossible but it’s too convenient and too quick.  I am also very envious of the ease with which she seems to master Danish.  I’ve been learning Norwegian, a very similar language, for a year and I’m still finding it pretty hard going in spite of a number of visits to Norway.

Even though I think the book is too slight, I enjoyed reading it.  Marianne is an engaging heroine, if rather undeveloped, and some of the Danish characters are very well handled.  I read my library’s copy of the book.  Will I buy a copy to add to my personal collection?  Almost certainly, yes.

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