Hans Christian Andersen: A Great Life in Brief recreates and celebrates the life of a teller of tales born 150 years earlier.
Although it is but one of innumerable Andersen biographies, Godden's work is distinctive, uncommonly readable, and inviting. As a writer of fiction, Godden brings her seasoned storyteller's craft to the task of rendering sensitively, but not sentimentally, a rich account of Hans, the mercurial man and his matchless work. The familiar facts of Andersen's life find expression in his tales, and Godden fuses fact and fiction beautifully in this book.
Andersen, a "lonely, gentle, grotesque figure," was well acquainted with despair and happiness, heartache and joy.
Failure, however, never deterred him long from his stalwart determination to write. Ultimately, late in life, he achieved near-global recognition far beyond anything he expected. Andersen has written, "Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale."
Godden's biography, nonetheless, is no...