Four Days in January: A Letter to Jillsan – Nils-Johan Jørgensen

letteringThis is a modern tale, a journey of the heart, a road back, revisiting many cities and enduring Eastern and Western sentiments to light and lighten our understanding of life’s fleeting appearance.

It is a way of honouring the life of a loved one, to tell a personal story that reflects the shared, universal truth of the silence of loss from Kakimoto to Goethe and beyond.

Four Days in January is a beautifully told, deeply moving and poignant letter of loss, yet also the celebration of the life of a loved one through allegory, music, poetry and personal records.

Told in letter-form, Four Days in January records the story of two lovers and their lives through marriage and parenthood following his diplomatic career spent in different parts of the world, and the role and dedication of the diplomat’s wife.

Here is a very open volume that offers an array of inspirational thoughts for anyone facing loss and bereavement.

Having read most of Mr Jørgensen’s other books this one, whilst no less readable was an altogether different beast. It is a meditation on life as well as loss.  A union of two coming together to live as one, of a love that really shines through, a life lived fully but also a statement on the cruelty of having it cut short.

The beginning takes us through the unfolding tragedy of a life suddenly declining. It is told in an unflinching way and it moved this reader immensely.  Despite reading this book in January, I know that the opening will be the best one I read all year, which is saying something as I continue to amass great literature.

This personal final letter to his love is an intimate portrait, delicately penned, a chronicle of a shared existence, told through a number of key vignettes.  What makes this an intensely moving piece of work is that it is real life, good and bad things happen but it is a reminder to appreciate it every day for what it is.  Even the most mundane of times can become something beautiful when viewed the right way.

speeches, diaries and literary quotes are interwoven into the reminiscences, which add more not only to the immersion for the reader but also offer an insight into the world of the diplomat who moves around a lot.  The sacrifices the family make are also explored, the beloved places that became home, fondly remembered, the knowledge that contact with friends will end up being long distance as another move beckons.  That made worse of course before the advent of Skype and other such inexpensive communication platforms.

Each of the 27 chapters  – plus the titular four days in chapter one – adds up to the amount of days in January, which is no coincidence and the book is a story of chapters, of opening and closings.  This is a love story, pure and simple, it’s the best kind of love story, one that oozes real emotional content and an unflinching honesty.  Four Days in January makes my book collection richer.

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26 Replies to “Four Days in January: A Letter to Jillsan – Nils-Johan Jørgensen”

  1. Wow. Your wonderful review is powerful and moving enough my friend. Coupled with the lovely cover (which I don’t often pay too much attention to, strangely,), I am very keen to read this book. Thank you…

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  2. This sounds like a beautiful book. I went straight on to Amazon after reading your post to see if I could get a kindle sample (to sneakily peak at that opening you tantalisingly dangle before us!). But nothing doing – I see that it is just available in hard back. Never mind – devilling out copies of good work is always worth it.

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      1. Nothing like a real book for that all-round sensory experience. Kindle is great for travelling, but I like hard copies for home.

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        1. All-round sensory experience is a great way of putting it. I’ve been more mindful of spreading the reading love. When I next travel I’ll probably pick up some cheap second hand books, read them and leave them lying about somewhere to give somebody a free book. I will probably drop a blog link inside as well though as it would be interesting to get feedback from somebody….or multiple people were the book passed on. It would be a fascinating experiment.

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          1. Books that are fleetingly in our possession definitely have a special place in the world. I always love it when you find a shelf of ‘take me home’ books in hotels, dentist waiting rooms etc. It’s a really good idea to pick up books with an intention to pass them on anonymously as ‘bonus reads’. I might try this too, and we can compare notes.

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  3. Why, why, why, Ste J, will you keep recommending books faster than I can find them, let alone read them? Seriously, though, this sounds like a great read. You’re really keeping your hand in with the posting–how’s the job stuff going? Well too, I hope.

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    1. I seem to be posting a lot then disappearing for a while of late but everything is going well, books are being read and its an unbelievably good run of books this year. This one is short and I tread it in two sittings. I feel a need to post more than I do, if only I could make it a full time job!

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      1. I don’t know if they have this across the pond, but over here, there are some websites that sort of feature a collective of authors. Maybe you could reserve some of your titles for something like that if you can find it (in all your copious free time-he!he!), and then continue with your own blog as you do now for the rest. I think some of those collectives even pay a pittance.

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        1. It bears looking into but really I would love to be focussing and growing with this blog. There is always the hope if a lottery win, one can hope!

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    1. Yes, I check Amazom.com and .co.uk and they stock it. I have reviews four of the author’s other books elsewhere on this site as well, each is well worth a read.

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    1. I totally agree, in fact for me, it is always a physical copy, I like to be reminded of my reading experiences and what I learned from them daily.

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