We, the Drowned

We, the Drowned

Book - 2010
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Follows a century in the port town of Marstal on an island off the coast of Denmark, whose citizens' lives are indelibly shaped by forces ranging from wars and shipwrecks to taboo survival practices and forbidden passions.
Publisher: Boston :, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,, 2010.
ISBN: 9780151013777
Branch Call Number: FIC JENS
Characteristics: 678 pages : map ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Barslund, Charlotte
Ryder, Emma


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678 pages. Also available in OverDrive and hoopla.

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Dec 26, 2016

Right from the first sentence you know that you're going to encounter sailors' yarns, the kind of thing that might have been told by some of those fishermen in Jan de Hartog's "The Lost Sea". So, is this just one big novel or a collection of stories? Well, there is a meandering thread connecting personalities and events spanning close to a hundred years. It's also the story of a town and how its fate is changed by world events and decisions made by some of its people over that span of time. This a large book, 675 pages and each of its four sections could almost stand their own as separate books of more digestible size. But having begun his tale with such an outrageous sentence and the couple of paragraphs that follow, most reader would likely want Jensen to tell us what eventually happened to Laurids Madsen's boots!
Jensen's portrayal of life in a seafaring community in mid-19th century, especially the life of boys growing up there is uncompromisingly grim and brutal. But there are moments of humor and the book is rich in historical detail. It's populated by an array of unique characters. And some of those tall tales are real winners!

Sep 13, 2015

Fabulous book! Definitely going into my top 10 favorites. Grabs you right from the first sentence and doesn't let go until the end. Takes the reader through three generations of seafaring exploits from the romance of the sailing ships, through to the transition into the steam ships and finishes at the end of WW2. Love the characters brought to life that stick with you long after the book is over. Just couldn't put it down. Was sad when it finished.

May 03, 2015

They do not get better than this. A long, satisfying (embellished) history of a Danish seafaring town and the stories of those who live there: the men who leave to sail the world's shipping lanes and exotic ports, and the women who must raise families and survive alone in a harsh environent. The reader follows the fortunes of the town, itself a central character in the story, from the mid 19th century, through the world wars and to our own time, as its fate is entwined with a way of life that is coming to an end .

SFPL_LisaF Apr 01, 2015

I almost gave up on this book in the middle because Albert and Klara's story bored the hell out of me, but the first part and the last part were very good. I really liked the parts about the Nimbus sailing in convoys during WWII; I had never heard that part of WWII history and it was very interesting and sad. The ending made me tear up a bit and wrapped up the whole endeavor very well.

Jan 22, 2015

Absolutely brilliant. A novel to get lost in.

Jun 06, 2014

There was a fair amount of interesting history contained in this book. Being typically restricted to English speaking countries in my historical fiction picks, it was great to get a Scandinavian setting.
I wasn’t a fan of the multiple separate generation stories that only really came together in the story at the end. It felt too long and drawn out, thus losing my attention and interest for large chunks of the narration. The characters were, for the most part, unlikeable. And while this is not always a problem for me, in this case it was.
It was really a 2 star book for me but good writing and an appealing setting got it an extra star.

Bunny_Watson716 Mar 12, 2014

A really engrossing read about a port town, its merchant sailors, and the women left behind while the men ply the waves. Really gripping and worth the time to read it. Marstal, in Denmark, retains much of historic charm. Highly recommended!

Vilka Oct 07, 2013

The 'life story' of a small sailors' town in Denmark from the 1840s to 1945, and perhaps of the seafaring life in general, told as the stories of some of its people. Not a dynastic soap-opera: it covers a different person in each generation, connected in some way to the person before but not necessarily related (friend, neighbour, shipmate, etc). The writing is matter-of-fact and often wryly funny, feels like fireside or pub-bench storytelling. Interesting characters and adventures: the town trickster going to war, a bunch of schoolboys dealing with a cruel schoolmaster, a young man searching the Pacific for his long-lost father, a youth suspected of murderer, a sailor's widow trying to keep her boy from the sea, and more. It is a long book, but the way it's divided into multiple quite different stories (which still connect into the overall story of a place and a way of life), you can treat it like a series and put it down & pick it up later. Main themes include the shift from sails to steam- and engine-driven ships, what it means to be a captain, and what if anything makes sailors different from land-folk. A cosy, sometimes suspenseful and often thought-provoking read.

Aug 22, 2011

Sea faring tale.
Danish gave up on it. Too many characters and jumped around in time.

Jul 24, 2011

Great writing and strong adventure for a good part of the book. The plot hit a lull in the middle, and I'd rather have done without that chunk, but the rest of the book was great.

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