The family at the heart of Danish author Morten Ramsland's "Doghead" (Thomas Dunne Books) seems like most ordinary families, according to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune review.
The narrator returns to Denmark to see his dying grandmother. He and his sister decide to take a look at the family history and its legends. They fill in the holes and investigate the lies, half-truths and misunderstandings of the family.
Ugly truths in family histories have a way of getting pasted over with flowery facades; a certain level of denial seems to be required for a clan of people to continue associating with each other through the generations.
But it's not only the bad acts that get mislabeled on the family bookshelf. Long-held grudges, feuds and imagined slights often conceal a sweeter picture than the collective memory has created.
In Morten Ramsland's very popular Danish novel "Doghead," his first to be translated into English, a matriarch's impending death instigates an accounting of all these family myths -- the good and the bad.
And, while the ultimate uncoding of the family's mysteries gets to be a bit of a gimmick, Ramsland's multigenerational family saga is a complex, engrossing tale of unique characters in situations that are sometimes funny, sometimes wrenching, often outrageous and fantastical, but always human and believable.
This sounds like an interesting read for genealogists.