Often I am Happy is quirky little book that gives the reader a glimpse of Ellinor as she grieves for her recently dead husband, Georg. Ellinor’s life has not been easy and losing Georg causes her to need to confide in someone. Unfortunately, Ellinor has not maintained a relationship with Georg’s adult children and so Ellinor decides to confide in Anna, Georg’s first wife. But even more unexpected, Anna is also dead. Ellinor secludes herself on the wrong side of town and shares the pain of her life and her relationships with Georg and Anna, recounting her childhood and the painful early life of her mother. The dark cloud that began as Ellinor’s life never seemed to be able to lift and Ellinor’s tortured beginning haunts her.
This is a dark story and frankly depressing. Jens Christian Grøndahl proves he is a talented writer that can create characters with hearts we mourn for as he embraces a story of loneliness, heartbreak and love lost. At times, the story is difficult to follow as Ellinor slips between reality and memory. Ultimately, Ellinor loved, and although it did not turn out to be a storybook life, she lived it, and readers will relish in this naked fact.
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