The Englishman – Helena Halme

The Englishman

Published November 17th 2013 by Newhurst Press

From Amazon:

A stylish 1980s Nordic love story – based on true events.

When a young Finnish student Kaisa is invited to the British Embassy cocktail party in Helsinki to celebrate a Royal Navy visit to Finland, she’s not looking for romance. After all, her future has been carefully planned: she’s to complete her degree, marry her respectable, well-to-do Finnish fiancé Matti, and live happily ever after.

Enter the dashing Peter, a newly qualified naval officer. Like a moth to a flame, Kaisa falls head over heels in love with the handsome Englishman. The young lovers steal passionate kisses in the chilly Esplanade Park and promise to meet again.

Kaisa and Peter embark on a long-distance relationship, but at the height of the Cold War, while the Englishman chases Russian submarines, Kaisa is stuck in Finland, a country friendly with the Soviet Union.

Kaisa lives for the Englishman’s passionate letters and infrequent long-distance phone calls, but her jealous ex-fiancé doesn’t want to let go, and her old-fashioned father hates foreigners. Can Kaisa trust the gregarious Englishman? Wouldn’t she be better off going back to her faithful fiancé?

While Kaisa struggles to keep up faith in the relationship, a war breaks out in the faraway Falkland Islands…

Can the love between Kaisa and the Englishman last and go the distance?

This ‘will they, won’t they?’ – tale of long-distance love is based on true events and attracted thousands of readers when first published as a series of blog posts on Helena’s London Life.

My thoughts:
Set in the early 1980’s, this is the story, simply told, of a love affair conducted without the advantage of internet, email or mobile phones – all the things that we now take for granted and reminds us of the difficulties of conducting a long distance romance when all you have to rely on are letters and the occasional phone call.  

Our young heroine, Kaisa, a Finnish student is superbly brought to life with great detail, and the cultural differences between Finland and Britain were interesting to note. I visited Finland during a Baltic cruise a couple of years ago and until then I hadn’t realised how close in proximity the Nordic countries were to Russia. The joy and anguish that Kaisa suffers as she waits for a letter or a phone call from Peter, her Englishman, together with her fears and confusion are vividly portrayed and the tense situation she faces with her fiancé Matti, who doesn’t want to let her go, and that of his overbearing mother are all too believable. We are privy to every detail of Kaisa’s daily life during her love affair with Peter and the problems that her difficult relationship with her father brings.  

This was a very engaging and charming romantic story and you could well believe that it is based on true events. It felt extremely personal to read – almost as if I were reading Kaisa’s diary.

My thanks to the author for the paperback copy to review.

About the Author:

Helena Halme grew up in Tampere, central Finland, and moved to the UK at the age of 22 via Stockholm and Helsinki. She spent the first ten years in Britain working as journalist and translator for the BBC. In 2004 Helena took a MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University having at last realised that she needs to take writing seriously.

Helena has written three full length novels, The Englishman, Coffee and Vodka, and The Red King of Helsinki. Helena lives in North London and can often be seen out and about in town, walking her Border Terrier.

Helena’s website

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