A Child’s Tapestry of War


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Anne Ipsen’s memoir of her Danish childhood is bathed in the light of long summer evenings and the love of doting parents. But the evocative, artful strands that weave this story are interlaced with the manace and cruelty of the Nazi occupation of Denmark during World War II. This chronicle spins homey images: of a mother who implores Anne to pick flowers with long stems, but gives her a little egg cup for the tiny bouquet; a father boosting her up the hills on the nine-mile bicycle trek to their cabin retreat; and two best friends whose rag dolls canoe inside the radiators after the girls are asleep. But for Anne, the ages from five to ten are overlaid with another kind of impression as German troops settle into an increasingly resisted occupation of Denmark. “My memories are vivid images like those of a medieval tapestry, woven from the fine threads of everyday life. They are filled with the colorful mille fleurs from a happy childhood and a white unicorn of fantasy encircled by family, but with an ominous backdrop of hunters in green–German soldiers.” The weaving is rich in characters and traditions where normalcy is cherished and nurtured, but with glimpses of a world rocked by the savagery of war, a country under siege, and Europe in shambles. Yet life goes on, in a book of childhood discovery, exquisite images, and extraordinary and ordinary occurrences.

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