Book Review: Coffee and Vodka, by Helena Halme (@helenahalme) # RBRT #women’s fiction

A compelling read about two cultures and one family’s struggle to deal with the past.

Eeva has a happy life in Finland, with a caring mother, her beloved Pappa, and an older sister Anja who is entering the difficult teenage years. Then Pappa moves the family to Stockholm where he has found a better-paying job, and Eeva’s life changes. Anja, who has learned Swedish, makes friends easily, although not always the best kind. Eeva and her mother struggle to learn a new language, which causes social problems for them both since they are bullied for being Finnish. The relationship between her mother and her father becomes strained and ugly. Her father takes to drinking vodka and eventually beats his wife, which leads to a divorce.

This novel is a believable, but dark, story of family dynamics. Eeva was badly affected by the divorce. As an adult, she seldom sees her mother and has avoided her father for three decades in an attempt to adjust her life to avoid the pain of her parent’s separation.  Although she at first seems psychologically stable, there was a hint that all was not that well with her when it is revealed she has never gone back to Finland to see her grandmother, whom she loves deeply. Instead, she relies on a weekly exchange of letters, but she never follows up when her grandmother fails to write her for three weeks in a row.

Human frailty is the basis of the story and the faults in each of the characters are on full display. When the family is forced together again for the grandmother’s funeral, its members, and especially Eeva, have to face the truth of their twisted relationships. When the real reason behind the parents’ divorce is revealed, it becomes clear why each family member has dealt with the fallout in their own way.

This is a well-written novel, if not the most pleasant. At its bones, it is a dish of reality served up by an author who knows how to present it. The setting – Finland and Sweden – was novel for me, and the characters were well drawn and never boring. It was a good and compelling read.

About the author (Amazon)

Helena Halme writes Nordic fiction with a hint of both Romance and Noir. A prize-winning author, former BBC journalist, bookseller, and magazine editor, she holds an MSc in Marketing and an MA in Creative Writing. Full-time author and self-publishing coach, Helena also acts as Nordic Ambassador for The Alliance of Independent Authors and has published twelve Nordic fiction titles and three nonfiction books.

Apart from writing stories, Helena is addicted to Nordic Noir and dances to Abba songs when nobody’s watching.

You can find more about Helena Halme

On twitter: @helenahalme

On Facebook:

On Instagram (@helenahalme)

And on her book site:

You can find Coffee and Vodka on Amazon:



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