But now, along comes The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell, a journalist and former lifestyle magazine editor. When her husband is offered a job with Lego Group in the small town of Billund, Denmark they take the leap, leave their basement flat in London, and move to the land of 'the happiest people in the world'.
She decides to explore just why the Danes are so darn happy. Is it the pastries? The functional yet beautiful design aesthetic? Clutter-free living? The underfloor heating in homes that keeps things toasty during the long dark winters?
This looks to be a combination of Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project and Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. So far I have only read the prologue and her findings of the first month living there. The couple arrives in January where the sun shines maybe seven hours a day and the snowy temperature hovers around 30 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1 degree Centigrade which sounds so much colder!).
She finds that winter, though, is the perfect season to discover the Danish idea of hygge or "staying home and having a cosy, candlelit time."
Being a journalist, Ms. Russell does her research and calls upon a multitude of Danish experts to explain and elaborate on a variety of things that add to the Danes' satisfaction with life.
I have developed a bit of curiosity about Denmark from watching the television crime drama The Bridge (or Bron/Broen). The title refers to the span connecting Malmö, Sweden with Copenhagen, Denmark and is as moody as one could hope for. I must admit I didn't see much happiness.
I think the only crime that shows up in Ms. Russell's book is her noting that the Happy Danes have a 50 percent personal tax rate! Of course, that guarantees them free health care, education, and generous unemployment and sick leave benefits.
It will be amusing to see how Ms. Russell and her husband (referred to throughout as Lego Man) get on for the remainder of the year.