Dorte is twenty and adrift, pretending to study literature at Copenhagen University. In reality she is riding the trains and clocking up random encounters in her new home by the railway tracks. She remembers her ex, Per – the first boyfriend she tells us about, and the first she leaves – as she enters a new world of transient relationships, random sexual experiences and awkward attempts to write.
In her first novel to be translated into English, Danish novelist Helle introduces new readers to her strikingly spare and introspective style. Twenty-one-year-old Dorte has just settled into a small bungalow near a railway station in the small town of Glums outside Copenhagen. There she struggles to find purpose (and a good night's sleep) while simultaneously reminiscing about her first failed love affair and connecting with those who wander into her new life. Dorte pretends to be a student at Copenhagen University to appease her family, but her aspirations are centered on a vague impression that she should be writing something, even if she's unsure what form it should take. Helle effectively captures the inner life of a lonely and newly independent young woman whose inner aimlessness may be at odds with the ambition of those around her, and who is just beginning to understand the nature of regret. Little actually happens in this slim novel, but the reader comes away with the impression that the short time Dorte spends in her bungalow will nevertheless serve as the foundation for much of her adult life.