I was born in Denmark and my memoirs draw on my childhood there and my youth as a teenage immigrant to the US. My parents and I lived in Copenhagen during the German occupation of the Second World War. Afterwards, we traveled in the USA, finally settling in Boston, where I was graduated from Radcliffe College and eventually received a doctorate from Harvard University. Before deciding to become a full-time writer, I was professor of Public Health at the University of Minnesota.
My first book, A Child's Tapestry of War--Denmark 1940-45, is based on my experiences during the German occupation. I was five years old when the war started and ten when it ended. Thanks to a quirky memory, I remember much of that peculiar childhood and the unusual circumstances of occupied Denmark. Working on this memoir made me realize that I wanted to be a writer. In the short sequel, Teenage Immigrant, I described the joys and sorrows of being an adolescent trying to adjust to a new and different society. That story first appeared in The Bridge, a publication of the Danish American Heritage Society.
The Karen Sequence. My first novel, Karen from the Mill, reflects my love of history and historical fiction. Karen lives on the island of Fanø in 1874 and although she and all the other main characters in the book are entirely from my imagination, I have tried to describe life on this magical but real Danish island of sand and sea as accurately as possible. In the sequel, Running before the Prairie Wind, Karen and Peter have moved to southwestern Minnesota. In addition to the personal story of the Larsen family, a major theme is the multicultural heritage of this area and the adjustment of the immigrants to living with two cultures. As always, the history of the setting is integral, including the lingering effects of the tragic Sioux uprising of 1864, as seen through the eyes of a mixed-blood native American who has her own problems of adjustment.
The New England Novels. I next turned to writing about my adopted home in New England. In At the Concord of the Rivers and Abigail's Legacy, I explored the fascinating towns of Concord, Cambridge, and the fictional village of Williams Hill in the seventeenth-century. The eponymous Abigail is a twentieth-century time-traveler who helped me conceptualize the lives of her Puritans and Native American friends. More recently my interests have turned to the future and how to adjust and prevent the worst of the looming disasters caused by climate change. Accordingly, my latest novel, Green Valley, starts in 2022 as Abigail’s granddaughter, Abby, moves to Williams Hill. These three novels therefore form a multigenerational trilogy spanning 350 years of New England resilience and point to a possible sustainable future in a carbon-free world.
My husband and I now live in Cambridge, the home of my youth. We have three grown children and five grandchildren. I enjoy talking to people of all ages about my work, including the background and history of the places about which I write. A special joy is meeting with book clubs in the Boston area. Watch the home page for news of book events and other public talks or use the Contact menu at the top of this page to write me a note.