First Line: "Bury St. Edmunds, November 22, Dear Professor Glob, Although we have never met, you dedicated a book to me once; to me, thirteen of my schoolmates, and your daughter."
Summary: Tina Hopgood has always meant to visit the Tollund Man at Silkeborg Museum in Denmark. She decides to send a letter to Professor Glob, who wrote a book about the Tollund Man that inspired her interest. She really doesn't expect to receive a response, figuring that Professor Glob is probably quite old or dead by now.
Anders Larsen, curator at the Silkeborg Museum, receives and reads the letter. He responds to Mrs. Hopgood, explaining to her that Professor Glob is indeed dead and gives her some further information about the Tollund Man. He doesn't expect a response to this letter, but thought it would be kind to let her know her letter was received and that the professor had died.
Tina sends another letter and so their correspondence continues. In the course of the writing they leave off talking about the Tollund Man and move to sharing about their personal lives.
My thoughts: I have mixed feelings about this book. I didn't love it, but there were things I liked about it. One of the things I liked about it was the epistolary nature of the novel. After reading 84, Charing Cross Road last year, I have enjoyed this type of writing. This story is somewhat reminiscent of 84, Charing Cross Road in that it consists of letters written between a man and a woman in different countries. However, that is where the similarities end. Of course, one is fiction, the other non-fiction. One is about the books and the other isn't.
I could relate to the characters' thoughts about reaching mid-life or slightly beyond and wondering if your life has meant anything and feeling a sense of loss because your life has turned out differently than you imagined.
"One of these thoughts is about plans never fulfilled. You know what I mean - if you are still alive you must be a very old man by now and it must have occurred to you that what you thought would happen, when you were young, never did."
However, I found Tina to be someone who was void of joy and who had been putting on an act for most of her life, especially in her marriage. She made comments about finding joy in things her grandchildren did, but otherwise she seemed to have a martyr attitude.
I spent most of the book feeling uncomfortable with the relationship forming between Tina and Anders, as well as some of the decisions made by family members. Fortunately, some of these things resolved themselves or came to light before the conclusion of the book.
Overall, this was just not the book for me. Others have given the book high praise, so your mileage may vary.