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It has dawned on me that human beings were never meant to reconcile their longing with reason, not at the expense of longing.Even if we welcome all our guests warmly and live a pretty decent life, most of us shouldn t expect the gods granting us the wish and privilege requested for by Philemon and BaucisSince we have lived out harmonious years together, let the same hour take the two of us, so that I never have to see my wife s grave, nor she have to bury meOvid, Metamorphoses, Book VIII It has dawned on me that human beings were never meant to reconcile their longing with reason, not at the expense of longing.Even if we welcome all our guests warmly and live a pretty decent life, most of us shouldn t expect the gods granting us the wish and privilege requested for by Philemon and BaucisSince we have lived out harmonious years together, let the same hour take the two of us, so that I never have to see my wife s grave, nor she have to bury meOvid, Metamorphoses, Book VIII 706 710 Although we all know stories about elderly couples having been together for decades, dying within a few days of each other, many who have the luck to share one s life enduringly with someone loved, will face living through separation by death, or will leave the beloved one in mourning The presence of another human being close to you might even sharpen your awareness of mortality Hodie mihi, cras tibi Today it s me, tomorrow it will be you However this might be a morbid thought, that makes it no lesser true Someone has to be first Experts can put it very dryly Widowhood is a normative experience in later life For bringing such experiences to life, we are blessed we can to turn to poetry and literature Is it still possible to feel something which can hesitantly be designated as happiness when one has to go through that normative experience twice in one s life The story of Ellinor s life, 70 and having buried a spouse twice, illustrates it is, nor minimising the impact of the experience, nor sentimentalising about it Apparently nothing ispurifying for people s self esteem than to place themselves at the very edge of someone else s grief and show that they are not at all dizzy Nobody tells me that life must go on There is room for wailing, all I have to do is let go I felt it at the funeral, the too long and significant looks or, to the contrary, a feigned normalcy as if to show me they know very well that no words are adequate anyway I m not being fair of course, what are people supposed to do with a bereaved person They do their best but the trouble is that when it comes to professions of empathy, I d rather not, whereas I can be sure to be all by myself in the dead of the night, whenever I could use a hug.Ellinor returns to the bare essence of life while addressing in thought her friend Anna, the deceased first wife of Ellinor s second husband, Georg, coming to terms with his recent death and her own past, her family history, her life before and after meeting Anna and Georg Readjusting to her new role in the life of her stepsons, she detaches herself from relatives and alienating, burdening expectations, selling the family home to move to a small apartment in the city neighbourhood she grew up in, regaining her freedom of speech now it is no longer necessary to keep up appearances or to keep the peace at all costs In her vulnerability, she finds comfort in her solitude, realising that even in a relationship one cannot or does not share all one s thoughts and emotions, like she never spoke with Georg about the shame she felt for her foggy descent, or the sorrow about her own childlessness I thought about our bed at home, how unaccustomed I still was, at night, to the undivided stillness The linen, the pillowcases, the finely woven cotton It was time to change For a few endless, lonely seconds it felt again as if I were swelling inside, to the point of bursting, compact and breathless, and I had to clutch the armrest It comes when I least expect it It would be glossing over to say that I am mourning when it is mourning that fills me up, that shapeless lump, growing unrestrainedly It drives me out of myself, making me gasp, and nobody will ever understand before they themselves lose someone dear to them and feel the pressure The shapeless, rising mass of grief No, it is true that one is no longer oneself In sparse and simple, thoughtful prose Jens Christian Gr ndahl makes grief and loss tangible through his lucid observations, pinpointing significant details like the speechless recollection of the smell of a beloved, or the awkwardness and shyness of people faced with the grief of another, at the same time creating an intimate and hopeful tale by illustrating how at decisive moments in life, one can leave behind some of the ballast resulting from the sacrifices one made for love living alienated from one s roots, in a sleepy suburb, living literally in the house and shoes of a dear friend who s place one takes and choose to cherish life again The lines of the song Tit Er Jeg Glad by the Danish novelist and poet Bernhard Severin Ingemann from 1812, put to music by Carl Nielsen in 1917 which open the novel for me perfectly capture the ripping ambiguity of the emotions living through grief, the tightrope walking, illustrating what a tattered word like happiness can mean in this context, how feelings meld within heavy heart, often tinged with an equivocal rim of the opposite feeling Often I am happy and yet I want to cryFor no heart fully shares my joy.Often I am sorrowful yet have to laughThat no one shall my fearful tear behold Now just jump on that bicycle and get that tub of white wall paint Ilse, oust the darkness by translucency, space and light Yes, it feels pleasurable to do things yourself, dear Ellinor, thank you for inspiring me.Having read this novel in Dutch first, my honest thanks go to Netgalley, Twelve and the author for the ARC, which enabled me to insert some quotes in English Watercolours by Jonas Pettersson Ellinor, at the age of seventy, finds herself alone Her husband has died, the two boys she helped raise are now grown, with lives of their own With a wish to unburden herself with the secrets and thoughts of her life, she talks to her best friend, a friend who lost her life long ago and who also, happens to be her husband s first wife.This is a beautifully written book, not overly emotional, just the introspective thoughts of a woman who has lived a long life Sometimes happily, sometimes not Ellinor, at the age of seventy, finds herself alone Her husband has died, the two boys she helped raise are now grown, with lives of their own With a wish to unburden herself with the secrets and thoughts of her life, she talks to her best friend, a friend who lost her life long ago and who also, happens to be her husband s first wife.This is a beautifully written book, not overly emotional, just the introspective thoughts of a woman who has lived a long life Sometimes happily, sometimes not Her youth, her first husband, his affair and death and how she came to love the man who became her second husband I wish I could understand why some of these types of books work for me, while others don t I think in this case it was the writing and the unusual circumstances in which this woman found herself In many ways, by the end of the book, she has come full circle, trying to see herself moving forward I also loved the gentle and elegant way this story and Ellinor were treated by the author Makes me think of what I would say about my life, what parts I would find worthy of relating, when and if I get to Ellinor s age, how I would feel about my life looking back A very good and worthy book, about a likable woman This is one of those rare adult books that s realistically presented honest and tenderly written The humanity is delicate and tenacious It s an intimate enduring gem I know this story really know it first hand I have a question for the author Did you my know my Uncle Buddy who married Ethelyn after his wife died Do you remember the boys Simon and Charlie, too Etheyln and Janice were best fiends for thirty years After Janice died Buddy asked Etheyn to marry him less than a year This is one of those rare adult books that s realistically presented honest and tenderly written The humanity is delicate and tenacious It s an intimate enduring gem I know this story really know it first hand I have a question for the author Did you my know my Uncle Buddy who married Ethelyn after his wife died Do you remember the boys Simon and Charlie, too Etheyln and Janice were best fiends for thirty years After Janice died Buddy asked Etheyn to marry him less than a year after her death The boys were angry rebellious especially Simon They couldn t stand the idea of another woman taking over their mother s role Jen Christian Grondahl wrote a very special book Perhaps it s not a book for everyone..but for those it is.this story explores the strengths and weaknesses of human character Being an introspective novel, the themes, loneliness, sadness happiness, and sometimes all these emotions all at once , are subtle.This is one of those books that is now part of my DNA It will resonate with me forever I think it s simply a brilliant small novel BIG THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES Often I am happy and yet I want to cry For no heart fully shares my joy B.S Ingemann This novel is not long in pages, but the writing is very dense and compact There is little conversation as the entire novel is a letter written by Ellinor to her best friend Anna Anna is dead as is Henning and they have been for 40 years However, it is the loss of Georg that brings forth the grief of Ellinor s previous losses and which she writes about to make sense of her past.For the two couples were nearly inseparable Ellinor and Henning and Anna and Georg They felt as though they had kn This novel is not long in pages, but the writing is very dense and compact There is little conversation as the entire novel is a letter written by Ellinor to her best friend Anna Anna is dead as is Henning and they have been for 40 years However, it is the loss of Georg that brings forth the grief of Ellinor s previous losses and which she writes about to make sense of her past.For the two couples were nearly inseparable Ellinor and Henning and Anna and Georg They felt as though they had known each other always Then came the deaths of Henning and Anna, and the eventual re marriage of Ellinor and Georg.Ellinor stepped into Anna s place, loving and caring for Anna and Georg s twin boys from the time they were 5 or 6 years old The twin boys are now a decade older than Ellinor was when she became their step mother.This fascinating letter of Ellinor s tells of her own past as well She relates to Anna aspects of her life that she never told anyone else There are many other secrets and undisclosed events and feelings that Ellinor shares with Anna She also shares her philosophies and what her deepest thoughts and feelings are regarding her own life as well as the life she shared with Anna and Henning and later with Georg.I enjoyed reading Ellinor s story and the style she used to tell it She moves from one story to another, connected not by chronological time, but by similarities or differences in events There is an authenticity in her writing, an open and honest desire for Anna to understand her, and in the process, she finds further understanding for herself.I am also very impressed that the author translated the work himself Although the events in the book take place in Denmark, it could be anywhere in the world, for the human nature aspects of the story are largely universal.My impression of this book is one of admiration, respect, and deep empathy for the characters As always with an excellent novel, I learned a lot for myself in the process of listening to Ellinor s expressed thoughts and feelings I loved it When 70 year old Ellinor s husband Georg passes, she finds herself alone, lonely and reflecting on the years past, friends who are now gone Children grown and moved away, not that she could share these thoughts with them All those whom she could turn to when she had a story or a memory to share, questions needing answers, or simply needed comfort GoneLove was Is it no longer Yes it is, it does not die with the man, but for how long will it flutter by itself, reach out in the empty rooms f When 70 year old Ellinor s husband Georg passes, she finds herself alone, lonely and reflecting on the years past, friends who are now gone Children grown and moved away, not that she could share these thoughts with them All those whom she could turn to when she had a story or a memory to share, questions needing answers, or simply needed comfort GoneLove was Is it no longer Yes it is, it does not die with the man, but for how long will it flutter by itself, reach out in the empty rooms for the grains of dust in a shaft of sunlight When does it become the memory of a feeling, no longer the feeling itself In her solitude, she turns to her friend, Anna, to share her thoughts and feelings Though Anna is among those no longer living, she is the only one whose presence, even if in her thoughts alone, can ease Ellinor s sorrow, who could ever understand how she feels, or forgive her for her secrets kept Forgive her for the life she s lived Offer comfort, solace, friendship Anna was not just Ellinor s friend, she was her best friend, and she was also Georg s first wife.This is a lovely, very introspective book, without a lot of highs and lows Still, there is an ever present aura of reflective melancholy A life lived but not over yet and maybe she can summon enough courage, strength to start over in this new place, find new things to fill her days.While this is a relatively short book, 176 pages, the story feels greater than its size belies,significant, momentous Perhaps this is because it feels so genuine, so true, so human, raw, but at the same time there is an understated elegance to this story and how it is relayed The sparse prose as well the grace with which this grief is tenderly, lovingly handled will be rememberedLove doesn t know, does it It only has its moment, for as long as it lasts Published 11 Apr 2017Many thanks for the ARC provided by Twelve Books Short, introspective, sometimes sad, but often happy , this is another book that I ve read in the last couple of years with the focus on a person in their later years coming to terms with themselves and reflecting on the life they have led Ellinor talks to her friend Anna, who was her husband s first wife The thing is Anna is not alive I didn t have a problem with this in the least I talk to my mother all of the time I m not losing it and neither is Ellinor In my case it just makes m Short, introspective, sometimes sad, but often happy , this is another book that I ve read in the last couple of years with the focus on a person in their later years coming to terms with themselves and reflecting on the life they have led Ellinor talks to her friend Anna, who was her husband s first wife The thing is Anna is not alive I didn t have a problem with this in the least I talk to my mother all of the time I m not losing it and neither is Ellinor In my case it just makes me feel better and feel that she is nearby Ellinor needed someone to tell her story to and to reconcile some things with Anna who used to be her best friend She s grieving the loss of her husband, their husband actually In rehashing to Anna their history, we come to know what happened to Anna and how Ellinor came to marry Georg She tells of how she met her first husband, about her mother and the father she never knew It becomes somewhat of a here s my life story telling Anna about the parts before they knew each other and after Anna was gone.The memories of their friendship of the past bring understanding and forgiveness Perhaps the telling of it, even though to someone who s dead is the catharsis she needed to move forward from her grief, to figure out where she is What a place to be at peace with an understanding of your life , at a place where she can express her sadness, her earlier self, tell her stepsons exactly what she thinks I loved her thoughts on parents and loving each other and the vision she has of her mother and father A quiet, beautifully written story I received an advanced copy of this book and Twelve Books through NetGalley |DOWNLOAD PDF ♐ Tit er jeg glad ♂ Tit er jeg glad af Jens Christian Gr ndahl er en gteskabshistorie, en bog om k rlighed, om familier og familierelationer Georg er lige d d, og hans kone nummer to, Ellinor, st r tilbage med hans to tvillinges nner af f rste gteskab Hvad g r man s Historien er henvendt til drengenes d de mor, Anna Tit er jeg glad er en dramatisk bog om udfordrende familierelationer Telecommunication Systems en bog om k rlighed The Poams om familier og familierelationer Georg er lige d d Archetypes of Thought og hans kone nummer to Virgin Exotica Ellinor Verbotene Mission (Kings & Fools st r tilbage med hans to tvillinges nner af f rste gteskab Hvad g r man s Historien er henvendt til drengenes d de mor Second Sight (The Admirals Elite, Anna Tit er jeg glad er en dramatisk bog om udfordrende familierelationer An old woman named Ellinor talks to her dead best friend about her life That s the whole enchilada Sounds exciting, huh Well I just LOVED this book I was sorry when it was over and I no longer had access to Ellinor s head.It s pretty funny that I ended up giving this book 5 enthusiastic stars, because when I started it I was sort of having a tantrum I couldn t figure out was going on in the story AT ALL, and the language seemed super stilted, cold, and clunky I was not seeing any whole enc An old woman named Ellinor talks to her dead best friend about her life That s the whole enchilada Sounds exciting, huh Well I just LOVED this book I was sorry when it was over and I no longer had access to Ellinor s head.It s pretty funny that I ended up giving this book 5 enthusiastic stars, because when I started it I was sort of having a tantrum I couldn t figure out was going on in the story AT ALL, and the language seemed super stilted, cold, and clunky I was not seeing any whole enchilada The ingredients didn t go together I kept having to reread sentences, shaking my head in frustration Man did I struggle I went so far as to write myself a note saying that the cadence of the language absolutely did not fit with the cadence of the language in my head Ha, don t ask me what that means, but I was convinced this book and I were not going to be friends I even considered abandoning it, to avoid the torture I was sure was ahead of me But I kept remembering that good friends gave the book high marks, so I kept going Besides, it was a short novel, I told myself Before long we re talking maybe only 20 pages , I was glued to the page Suddenly, the language seemed beautiful and flowing, and the storyline pulled me in Never have I done such a complete and vigorous turnaround, especially in terms of style How bizarre to at first think the language clunky, and then decide it is smooth and poetic I have since reread the previously torturous beginning of the book, and there was absolutely nothing about any cadence that was weird It s like at first I didn t have the key to get into the language I was stuck in a room where they were speaking another tongue I did figure out why it had started out being such a torturous read, though Here are the first two lines, which, of course, now that I understand what s going on, I think are totally brilliantNow your husband is also dead, Anna Your husband, our husband When I first read this, my editor self was going nuts I was doing a literal reading So wait a minute Anna s husband a separate guy , had died also That damn also really threw me When I got to the second line, Your husband, our husband, I was WAY confused What did the author mean by saying OUR husband The answer to the puzzle is that there is just one guy That guy is named Georg Anna had once been married to Georg After Anna died, Ellinor married Georg It gets convoluted when you learn that Anna had had an affair with Ellinor s first husband, Henning See Musical relationships But enough about my initial confusion I m just glad I persevered or I would have missed this wonder of a novel This is such a beauteous character story of a newly widowed Ellinor, a 70 year old who is talking to her dead friend, Anna Complex, introspective, wise, and observant, Ellinor comes alive on the page She is full of contradictions she is strong yet fragile, peaceful yet resentful, sassy yet reticent, sad yet happy She has a need to tell Anna that she knew about the affair, to catch Anna up on how Anna s kids turned out, to tell her secrets and heartaches, and to forgive I grew so attached to Ellinor I always love books that are introspective, full of psychological insights ones that make us think about people s motives, insecurities, indecisions That s what this book does in spades.I felt like I was going deep deep deep into Ellinor s heart and soul I hovered there, ears tuned, eyes sharp, mesmerized by her story An ordinary one in most respects, but in the hands of this writer, her life became extraordinary Every observation she made seemed brilliant I just wanted to keep reading and reading to see what she d think about next Maybe it s just her acute awareness of herself and of the people she loved I hung on every word, every little bit of her history It says something that when I picked up the book to search for quotes, I became entranced so thoroughly, I just started re reading and forgot about my search.During her years with Georg, Ellinor had been closed up in a way to keep safe, to keep the peace She had felt a duty to obey the rules of wife and mother When she reflects on those days, she does so with some sadness, some anger, some wistfulness You get the idea that she acted loving toward Georg and his kids, but it also seems like she was just going through the motions, and that beneath the surface was a profound loneliness I think the deaths of her first husband, Henning, and her best friend, Anna, as well as their secret affair, rattled her to the core, yet she had to survive, move on, seek the security of a relationship with Georg that was comforting and peaceful Now that Georg has died and she is alone, she can dispense with the world s, her family s, expectations, and truly be free to do what she damn well pleases Say what she thinks to her sons, be unpredictable, move to a furniture less, stark apartment in the big city Not depend on people Now, she exudes a quiet confidence Well, not so quiet in one case she blew up at her step daughter in law, Mie, one time Although the spew was on the quiet side, it was pointed, intense, and clever I was impressed by Ellinor s straightforward and acerbic anger I was rooting for her I felt like Mie deserved it even though I knew little about her Despite that one blow up, Ellinor has a very appealing quiet dignity about her.Occasionally, I could tell that English wasn t the author s native language There were subtle stumbles in grammar or sentence structure, but it was very infrequent, almost imperceptible The language ha, and yes, the cadence was glorious There were no wasted words, no philosophical musings, no sentimentality, no syrup Here are some nuggetsI have put iodine on their knees I have blown up in front of them, and I have put a hand on their slight boy shoulders when they were low I have taught them to look people in the eyes when they say hello, and I have taught them the zodiac I realized I was burdening her with my own homeless anger He was angry, and his anger had been accumulating He had been compelled to deposit it at the bank, since he couldn t get through to me on the cell or the landline phone, and now it was payback time, with interest It stung in a secret place, to see the three of you togetherOkay I ll stop gushing Read this book, is all I can say I ll be checking out earlier works by Grondahl Where has he been all my life Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy This is a near perfect book I am so in awe that I have been staring at the screen for a while trying to put my thoughts and feelings into words, preferably coherent ones Sometimes there comes along a book that feels true in a way that is rarely achieved It seems like Jens Christian Gr ndahl boiled down life and refined it to fit it into this short 176 page long novel.Recently widowed Ellinor addresses her late best friend and her late husband s first wife to talk about her feelings, her lif This is a near perfect book I am so in awe that I have been staring at the screen for a while trying to put my thoughts and feelings into words, preferably coherent ones Sometimes there comes along a book that feels true in a way that is rarely achieved It seems like Jens Christian Gr ndahl boiled down life and refined it to fit it into this short 176 page long novel.Recently widowed Ellinor addresses her late best friend and her late husband s first wife to talk about her feelings, her life, their friendship, loss, love and everything inbetween While she knows that Anna cannot hear her, she still finds solace in this one sided conversation Her life is an ordinary one but what the author made of it is absolutely awe inspiring He chooses just the rights words and phrases to make this story extraordinary while still grounded in reality.I loved the characters created here especially Ellinor is a wonderful person and I enjoyed spending time in her head a whole lot She is introspective and thoughtful, she is witty and lovely, but most of all she just seems so immensely real that I feel like I really got to know her, flaws and strengths and all Her family feels real in a way that side characters rarely feel as well and while they drove me nuts in parts as they drive Ellinor nuts as well I cannot deny knowing people like them.The circular nature of the narrative structure works so beautifully I am tempted to immediately reread the book as I am sure it would add an even extra layer Every description is on point and there is no sentence that feels superfluous The whole book is so tightly woven and sparsely told in just my favourite way I cannot recommend this book enough I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Twelve Books in exchange for an honest review Thanks for that 4.5 Stars Who is this author Jens Christian Grondahl I like him.I like his writing and I like Ellinor 70 years young, Ellinor is a good person, an extremely forgiving and tough soul who lets loose of all her secrets writing to her exceptionally beautiful, but long dead friend Anna.who just happens to be the first wife of her beloved and recently departed Georg.In OFTEN I AM HAPPY, memories of a disastrous ski trip.with her first husband Henning, Anna and Georg draw the reader in co 4.5 Stars Who is this author Jens Christian Grondahl I like him.I like his writing and I like Ellinor 70 years young, Ellinor is a good person, an extremely forgiving and tough soul who lets loose of all her secrets writing to her exceptionally beautiful, but long dead friend Anna.who just happens to be the first wife of her beloved and recently departed Georg.In OFTEN I AM HAPPY, memories of a disastrous ski trip.with her first husband Henning, Anna and Georg draw the reader in coveting those details of what really happened that awful day, but it s the big secret Ellinor has long kept hidden inside thatfor mewas the heart of the story showing the source of her pride and strength.Less than 200 pages, but engrossing and heartfelt giving the reader a lot of bang for the buck Many thanks to NetGalley and Twelve Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review