Linda Gerber's The Finnish Line

Finland, Finland, Finland, it's the country where I want to be" (Monty Python).

I won a copy of Linda Gerber's The Finnish Line the other day and barrelled through it in one - very late - night.

"When Nordic ski jumper Maureen 'Mo' Clark sets off to study abroad in Finland, her goal is simple; to jump in the famous Lahti Ski Games and prove to her family and friends what she's made of. But simple turns complicated when her grades start to slip, her jumps don't measure up, and a good-looking gypsy-blood teammate offers his assistance—for a price. Amid the saunas and snow castles, the ice swimming and Northern lights, Mo discovers strength inside herself—her own Finnish sisu—that she never knew existed."
I'm always awed by authors that, even within one genre, can switch between all sorts of different points of view and settings. From the lush island in the first book of her Death By... series, to the regular city and mall setting of Trance, to the cold and snowy (what else? it's winter!) Finnish countryside in The Finnish Line, Gerber keeps the pace fast and fun.

There's a bit of modern history involved as well - as Gerber was writing the book, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) still barred women from the Nordic Ski Jumping competition at the Winter Games. If I'd known this while the games were on in Canada last year, I might have... well, I'd have done something! However, on 6 April 2011, the IOC voted to include women's ski jumping as an official event in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

And there's even a Tolkien reference! Guaranteed to get me excited. A mention of one of Tolkien's invented languages, Quenya, which is loosely based on Finnish, and of Väinämöinen, the main character from the Kalevala epic; Gandalf and the other wizards share many of his attributes. Hmm, I wonder if this blog gets visitors from Finland? Even a member of the Finnish Tolkien Society?

(As an aside, I stumbled upon the Scottish brogue version of the Väinämöinen Wikipedia page.)

There's only one Linda Gerber book I haven't read, Now and Zen, which takes place in Tokyo. It's going on my wishlist right now!

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