Elisabeth Møller Jensen’s ’family saga’ is primarily the story of her mother, Gudrun – a brilliant, charming, outgoing woman, but with a challenging and fiery temperament that veered increasingly out of control. As a teenager, Gudrun was hospitalised for treatment of mental health problems; after a passionate relationship with a German soldier during the Second World War, she married a hard-working and principled baker’s assistant, a Dane called Tage, with whom she had four children, Elisabeth being the oldest.
Tage bought a bakery in Lemvig, trade was not brisk, and the business went bankrupt; he then got a job at the nearby Cheminova factory, the global supplier of agrochemical products, but Gudrun’s condition was worsening, not helped by her massive abuse of prescription drugs and alcohol. This inevitably affected her husband and children; filled with alarm and despair, they were witnesses to Gudrun’s downward spiral. She died in 1975, at 53 years of age.
Elisabeth Møller Jensen tells this story without any window dressing; an especially powerful authenticity is added by passages quoted from letters and diaries in which Gudrun writes about her situation, about her anxiety – especially her worries about harming her children – about her love for her husband and about her struggle with trying to live a conventionally normal life.