26 December 2007

Jens Christian Grøndahl, Virginia, 2000

In occupied Denmark in 1942 a downed English RAF pilot is hiding from the Germans on a remote beach, and Virginia, a teenage girl, is secretly looking after him. But the narrator, at the time a smitten and slightly jealous teenage boy, betrays the pilot in a moment that will haunt him and the girl for the rest of their lives, right up to the present day. This excellent story is about the often dangerous intricacies of negotiated relationships, either long-standing or fleeting. The writing is full of lucidity and clarity, great characterisation and a superb ending: whether capturing early innocence or the weary maturity of advanced years, It’s hardly surprising that Grøndahl, one of Europe’s most widely-read authors, somehow nails it perfectly.   PY

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