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The Summer of Ellen

2.92  ·  Rating details ·  133 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Agnete Friis returns with a lyrical, suspenseful new standalone set in rural Denmark that moves between the present and the summer of 1978, exploring obsession, toxic masculinity and the tricks we play on our own memory.

Jacob, a middle-aged architect living in Copenhagen, is in the throes of a bitter divorce and the resulting alcoholic binge when he receives an unexpected
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 21st 2019 by Soho Crime (first published May 30th 2017)
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2.92  · 
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 ·  133 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Nenia ✨ Literary Garbage Can ✨ Campbell

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My mother is really into Scandinavian murder mysteries, so I know a bit about them, even though it's not really my genre of choice. Agnete Friis is 1/2 of a famous writing duo behind a series of mysteries about a woman called Nina Borg, and seems like it might be the Danish answer to Miss Marple. Since then, she's gone solo, and this book, THE SUMMER OF ELLEN, is one of those singular efforts.

THE SUMMER OF ELLEN is told in a dual timeline
Kasa Cotugno
Down on the farm, where life revolves around the husbandry of animals if not of people, something awful happened in 1978, and the book goes back and forth between present day and then. I wasn't as put off as some readers by the downbeat tone, -- it is Scandinavia after all, and Karl Ove Knausgård has led us all over that territory via his magnum Proustean opus, even if he is in Norway and this story takes place in Denmark.
Sofii♡ (A Book. A Thought.)
May 17, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish

I want to thank Edelweiss + and Soho Crime for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review

I'm really sorry, I don't tend to do this and less when it's an ARC, but it's not my kind of book and I can't really keep pushing myself to finish it, I don't think it's a good idea, I'm already feeling kind of slumpy so I'll leave it here and I can tell you a little about what it's about, in case you're interested


My opinion as always is 100% honest and in this case, my decision is more
Ken Fredette
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Agnete Friis Made a story so lifelike that it almost scared me with its realism. With changes here and there it could have happened in real life, in my case it really happened but with no Lise. Several guys and I worked on a dairy farm haying, I learned to drive there on hay trucks, and tractors of all kinds. And the girls were there also riding horses. But I had a similar experience too that of Utzon only we had a death on a nearby hill (it was natural). It was amazing I could throw bales up 8 ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most boring books I have not finished reading. In a story where past and present are so fused together that you keep asking yourself, "Wait a minute. . .is this now or then?" Until finally you realize you don't care if it's now or then. You just want it to be over. Sorry to be so negative. Maybe it's better in the original Danish. But really every chapter I read was labelled "1978" and yet in some chapters, the narrator is a young boy and in some a middle-aged man.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Alfred Hitchcock once said that a thriller is a whodunit, an intellectual process, but suspense is an emotional one. Friis knows this — and slowly, slowly takes us by the hand and draws us into a seductive, and dangerous, summer.

Full review:
Kathleen Gray
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
There are good reasons why Jacob has not been back to his uncle Anton's farm in the Jutland since 1978. Told in dual time line - 1978 and sort of the present- this is a dark tale of bad things that happened on that farm. Anton, now very old, wants Jacob to find out what happened to Ellen, a young hippie who was around that summer. Equally importantly, he also needs to sort out what happened to another girl. His brother Anders still lives on the farm and their relationship is, to put it briefly, ...more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Basically, I felt this book was much ado about not much--one man's ego and sense of manliness maybe. I felt it was filled with gratuitous *locker room talk* and way too much chickens*** and pigs*** that added very little to nothing to the story ( except in one instance). I finished it because I expected a big denoument but it rather whimpered at the end.
Too much male gaze-y boner talk for me. Or maybe the amount was acceptable but it was just poorly done male gaze-y boner talk? I'll never know.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Yuck!! I really do not even have words. I’m not sure if it’s the author or the translation- but I juts found the book coarse. Like a bunch of middle school boys putting down all the dirty words they knew. Gratuitously violent and profane.
Bodil Sixhøj
Hovedpersonen, Jakob, er midaldrende og i livskrise, da han kaldes tilbage til barndommens land på Djursland og til sommeren 1978. Dengang voksede han op med en alkoholiseret far og en mor, der jævnligt forlod hjemmet for at få noget luft. Mens hun den sommer er væk, og faren forsumper, opholder Jakob sig hos sin fars onkler, Anton og Anders, som driver en mindre gård, som Jakob hjælper til på. Samme sommer forsvinder kammeraten Stens storesøster, og en større politieftersøgning går i gang. Da h ...more
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
From the book jacket:”Agnete Friis’s evocative work of psychological suspense weaves together two periods in one man’s life to explore obsession, toxic masculinity, and the tricks we play on our own memory”
A dark and depressing Danish mystery. Some very unsettling graphic violence involving chickens, dogs, farm animals. An interesting plot because it is not quite clear until the end who is actually dead. The start of the book is very slow and with the alternating chapters, one marked 1978 and t
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jacob, an architect in his 50s, is having a mid life crisis. He's divorcing his wife and quoting his job.
In the midst of that, he gets a call from his now elderly Great Uncle. As a 15 year old, Jacob spent a summer with his two Great Uncles. A very eventful summer, and after an explosive event, Jacob left and never went back...
But after the call from his Great Uncle, Jacob returns, to find out what really happened that summer....
A good story. Told often from a boy's point of view, it is a bit
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read about Denmark where I lived decades ago. This is a very different environment than the one I knew. A commune, hog farm, chicken farm and lots of heat. I got to know a lot of characters, many not especially likeable, but interesting and with many secrets. The switching in time frames sometimes confused me, but the author got me on track fairly quickly. The details of place were intense, as was the tension within the I character. This was an intense reading experience.
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Mystery in Denmark

1978....Denmark... The story is told in flashback by the protagonist, Jacob. When Jacob was 15, an unsolved murder occurred. Another young woman went missing. 40 years later, Jacob tries to find the truth behind these events. Was the perpetrator someone close to him?
The cover of the English translation is an isolated farmhouse baking under a hot Danish sun. Do not let this cover fool you. This is black-as-night Danish noir, full of the grotesque and disturbing. It was pretty good!
Apr 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Was not a terrible book, just lacking the desire to want to continue reading. Kind of had to make myself continue the story, just to find out whodunnit. Somewhat a typical story of rough childhood, sent to stay with extended family for the summers, etc.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
It was okay, but overall pretty forgettable.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
A somewhat dark meditative exploration of a middle aged nab's attempt to make sense of the current melt down of his life and a murder when he was in his teens.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this glimpse into the rhythms of a different world. Good mystery, enjoyable characters, foreign setting.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it
This moved quite slow and had a payoff that wasn't worth the effort.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave it about 100 pages....and had to scan a bit to get that far. This story, at least what part I did read, was absolutely awful. The flash back parts of the story take place when the main character is a teenager. Every few pages were descriptions of his teenage fantasies and masturbation activities. And some of it was just plain gross. It isn’t even a book I would pass on. I don’t recall ever having done this with a book before....but it’s headed to the trash. Sorry I spent time and money on ...more
Ginny Higgins
rated it it was ok
Aug 19, 2019
Ellen Bragalone
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Sep 05, 2019
rated it it was ok
Jul 19, 2019
Charlotte Meng
rated it really liked it
Aug 20, 2019
rated it did not like it
Jul 18, 2019
Gayle Pincus
rated it did not like it
Jul 17, 2019
Henriette DTB
rated it liked it
Jun 15, 2018
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Jan 10, 2018
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