Danish Blood opens in the 1840s in Denmark, a time when rural people were poor and life was backbreakingly hard. Knud Jensen, named after a Viking King, is part of a close-knit, loving family eking out an existence on the land. But his life changes direction when Knud joins the army and Denmark is at war with Prussia within months. Although injured, he survives, returning to the family farm, but now with a broader outlook on life and new ideas. He marries, and their family prospers under his leadership over the years.
In part two of the novel, the story continues with Knud’s grandson, Thor Jensen, a sailor at sea, and part three has Thor coming to New Zealand, jumping ship to be with a Danish woman living in Wellington, while Knud continues his life in Denmark.
Robert Christensen is a second-generation Danish-New Zealander, and he has written a novel based on the history of the Danes from the mid-1800s, with some choosing to settle in New Zealand before the First World War.
I have Danish ancestry on my mother’s side of the family, so I read this book with great interest. Robert has done an impressive amount of research, and I learnt a lot from reading about this fictional family and their exploits in Denmark, on the seas, and then in New Zealand.
I’d recommend Danish Blood to anyone interested in Danish history and the immigration of Danes to New Zealand. It’s a family saga set during turbulent times, with a smattering of Nordic mythology along the way.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan