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 navy 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…
Nordic Noir meets Scandinavian romance in this stylish 1980s love story.
“The English Heart is a love story: the account of the long-distance romance between English Naval officer Peter and Finnish student Kaisa, as this star-crossed couple discovers that Shakespeare’s words are still true, even in the 1980s, and the course of true love never runs smooth. Together, they contend with a broken engagement, long separations, the Falklands War, inevitable cultural differences, and the small matter of a member of the British armed forces wanting to marry a citizen of a country bordering the Soviet Union.” – Kate Allison, founder of The Displaced Nation website. Read the whole review here
“I was so excited when The English Heart arrived that I started reading it the same night and couldn’t put it down so eventually put out the light at midnight, by which time I was halfway through. Last night I worked until 1:30am but had to find out what happened next so read until 2:30. I’m loving it! :-)” – Reader, by email.
“I automatically give five stars to any book that has me staying up way past my bedtime to read it and abandoning anything else that I’m meant to be doing in order to get to the end, and this was one of those books.” – Debbie Young, author and Commissioning Editor Author Advice Centre, Alliance of Independent Authors.
“The English Heart is subtitled “Can love go the distance” and it is quite the page-turner, I had difficulty stopping myself from devouring it in one go.” – Tania Hershman, award-winning author and poet, and editor of The Short Review.
“This was a recommendation from my Finnish girlfriend – as a love story between a Finnish girl and an Englishman it seemed quite apt really! Whilst perhaps not the genre I would usually read, I was compelled throughout, completing the book in a couple of days. I really loved the little touches of cross-cultural romance; I could definitely identify with several of the Englishman’s actions, for example making a sandwich out of the traditional Finnish snack of cheese, ham and rye bread! Not to mention hours spent wondering what your partner is doing or thinking in another country. Although I think my reading was enriched by my past visits to Tampere and Helsinki, I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good love story, particularly those who have experienced a long-distance relationship.” – A Goodreads reader.
“Helena Halme, a Finn who grew up in Sweden, now writes in English. Her fictionalised memoirs give an insight into displacement, long-distance love, dysfunctional families, cultural differences between neighbouring countries, and the emotional journey of readjustment.
Check out Coffee and Vodka and The Red King of Helsinki by the same author.
As a perennial nomad, I identify. The light tones of romance and adventure are deceptive. Halme tackles awkward issues such as family problems, practical bureaucracy and the reality of prejudice.
Identity, conscience, duty, relatives, friends, and the inescapable ties of love, whether benign or otherwise, her books have serious ballast.
Yet the stories draw you in and only when you’ve finished a satisfying journey do you realised you’ve learned something.
And this is an author writing in her THIRD language. ” – JJ Marsh, journalists, teacher, actor and author of the Beatrice Stubbs detective series.
Interested? Find out more here