Today we are delighted to review Helena Halme’s book, The Englishman. Helena is a regular visitor to The Displaced Nation, where she has been featured both as a Random Nomad, and as Cleopatra For The Day. The Englishman is available from Amazon (UK and US) — and for a limited time this week, is free to download as a Kindle ebook!
TITLE: The Englishman
AUTHOR: Helena Halme
AUTHOR’S CYBER COORDINATES:
Blog: Helena’s London Life
PUBLICATION DATE: August 2012
FORMAT: Ebook (Kindle)
SOURCE: Review copy from author
Helena Halme grew up in Finland and Sweden, and left Finland for good when she married her English husband. She now lives in London. The Englishman is her first book.
At the age of twenty, Kaisa has her life mapped out. After university in Helsinki, she’s going to marry her well-to-do fiancé, Matti, and live happily ever after. But in October 1980, she’s invited to a British Embassy cocktail party, and meets a dashing Naval officer. In the chilly Esplanade Park the Englishman and Kaisa share passionate, secret kisses and promise to meet up again. But they live thousands of miles apart – and Kaisa is engaged to be married.
At the height of the Cold War the Englishman chases Russian submarines whilst Kaisa’s stuck in a country friendly with the Soviet Union. Will their love go the distance?
(Source: Amazon.com book description)
The Englishman is semi-autobiographical, based on the author’s blog posts on How I came to be in England, which, after an enthusiastic response from readers, she was inspired to turn into a fully fledged novel.
It is a love story: the account of the long-distance romance between English Naval officer Peter and Finnish student Kaisa, as this star-crossed couple discovers that Shakespeare’s words are still true, even in the 1980s, and the course of true love never runs smooth. Together, they contend with a broken engagement, long separations, the Falklands War, inevitable cultural differences, and the small matter of a member of the British armed forces wanting to marry a citizen of a country bordering the Soviet Union.
No matter where you are from, or even if you and your partner are from the same cultural background – if you’ve ever been in a long-distance relationship, The Englishman will strike a chord. Loving from afar in the early 1980s was a different matter than it is now: no Skype, no Facebook, no texting, but instead the sweet agony of waiting for letters in the mail and for the landline telephone to ring. Kaisa and her Englishman remind us of the forgotten pleasures of delayed, rather than immediate, gratification.
Especially recommended for romantics who grew up listening to Chrissie Hynde and wearing leg warmers the first time they were in fashion.
“The Englishman” can be purchased from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, and from October 8 – 12 is available to download free of charge.
STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s ghosty posty, a spooky Displaced Q from Tony James Slater!
Image: Book cover — “The Englishman”
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Kate, thank you so much for such lovely review!
Helena, I’m curious: what made you decide on writing a novel rather than a memoir? And did fictionalizing your story shed any new light on what happened in your own life? (Since memoirs are so popular these days, I keep wondering what would happen if some of the people writing them tried fiction instead…)
I would love to know how much of this is memoir and how much spills into fiction! If it’s all memoir, then lucky Helena – a true life love story.
I tried to write a memoir, but couldn’t! I am a novelist and just keep making stories up. Much of this story, is, however, true but I didn’t think I could call it a memoir as some things were pure fiction.
What’s true and what’s not, well, that would be telling!