A rising young architect has been invited to speak at Lund University in Sweden, where he meets an old college friend, also an architect. The two get involved in a plot that has to do with the possibility of building a bridge connecting Sweden to Denmark. An Oresund Bridge. Author Jeannine Dahlberg has created a mystery novella in which more than a few sidebars are actually factual. And beneath it all, it’s also a family story.
“My father used to tell stories about Sweden, and I wanted to incorporate all the places he talked about―Christinehof Castle, for instance―and the family and the history into a novel,” says Jeannine Dahlberg, author of “Oresund Bridge,” which is dedicated to her daughters, grandchildren, brother and niece.
Dahlberg’s father came to the U.S. as a young boy and never returned to his native country, but his stories most obviously left a mark in the imagination of his daughter Jeannine, who has visited Sweden several times.
“Growing up you never ask enough questions,” she says. "My father always wanted to talk about Sweden, but his father―my grandfather―never did. My grandfather had been forced to leave Sweden because he had rheumatic fever. He had worked with Per Albin Hansson (leader of Swedish Social Democrats, Prime Minister and the man who advocated and worked for the introduction of the Swedish welfare state system). My father used to sit in Per Albin Hansson’s lap.”
When Dahlberg returned to Sweden, she says she felt an instant sense of belonging, of recognition.
“The last time I went, I went with my father to trace the footsteps of our family. I felt an immediate tenderness to the environment in Sweden, I felt so comfortable. Somebody told me that you inherit feeling through your DNA, feelings you cannot explain, and I believe that’s true.”
The daughter of an architect, Dahlberg was also impressed with the Oresund Bridge, which she calls “a marvelous architectural feat.” She believes the reason few people know about the bridge has to do with the fact that Scandinavians are very quiet about their accomplishments.
“Not at all like the English: When the channel tunnel was built, the entire world knew about it.”
Dahlberg was anxious to write about Malmö, the Malmö her father had spent his first years in but never again saw, and a city that has changed dramatically over the years.
“My father didn’t want to return because, as he said, he didn’t want to burst the bubble,” she says. Dahlberg explains that she had to hurry to complete her story in time for summer 2010, which marks the tenth anniversary of the bridge. A lot of research had to be done and Dahlberg was happy to have kept all of her travel journeys, which came in handy as reference.
“I’m proud of my Swedish heritage,” she says. “My grandparents used to have these big Christmas parties, then my parents took over, and my father flew both the American and Swedish flags, and now that they’re gone, I host the parties. I have everything you need to eat at Christmas on my smorgasbord!”
Jeannine Dahlberg lives in Glendale, MO. Before “Oresund Bridge,” she wrote two other novels: “Riding the Tail of the Dragon” and “Candle in the Window.” She has a passion for writing and has written everything from political speeches to poems.