Sunday, 8 July 2018

Guest Post - The Heart of Europe by M.P. Tonnesen - Bookish World Cup - Belguim

“She was thriving in the centre of Europe with all its bureaucrats and technocrats, politicians and businessmen, diplomats and lobbyists, hot shots and coolies. The architecture alone could get her and her trusted camera into overdrive: ducal guildhalls; avant-garde art nouveau; 20th century concrete, glass and steel facades; all side by side in one big melting pot of inspirational currents.”

Welcome to Brussels – the capital of Belgium! A city of architectural contrasts and culinary delights in which I had the great pleasure of living and working in the early 2000s. My experiences as a young intern in this buzzing metropolis inspired a chapter in my debut novel, “The Cosmopolitan Islander”, from which the extract above is taken. 

Politics and business dominated the discourse of the city and my life during this time. My first meeting in the European Parliament was everything I had dreamt of during my years at business school, as I longed to become a part of the beating heart of Europe. The fascinating translators in glass paned boxes. The musings of semi-famous MEPs. Not to mention the impressive design of the building itself in the Leopold Quarter, housing the thousands of people making the wheels of the union go round. It all sent the adrenaline rushing through my ambitious, adventure-seeking veins.
However, despite my workaholic inclinations at the time, they did not overshadow my quest to experience as much as I could of this bipolar country of Flemish and French cultural currents. My main challenge was to taste as many as possible of the over 500 different kinds of locally brewed beers. And then there were the chocolates; and the frites and the moules-frites; and the multiple varieties of waffles. Needless to say, my Belgian adventures cost me on the calories account, but the mouth-watering and phenomenally fun experiences were all worth it.

Like my main character Chloe, I shared an old house in the borough of Ixelles with a group of other young Danes who were equally determined to not only boost their CVs, but also discover all this country had to offer. Together we explored Brussels’ main cultural sights, like the breath-taking Grand Place, the quaint cultural trademark of Manneken Pis – and his lesser known female equivalent, Jeanneke Pis, tucked away in a cul-de-sac off the restaurant-packed Rue des Bouchers. We also went further afield to gorgeous Ghent, hip and historical Antwerp, and even hopped over to the little Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for a tour of one of the other official capitals of the European Union (the third one being Strasbourg in France).

The impressions remaining the clearest in my mind from my time in Belgium are the vibrant vibes of Brussels and all its key institutions. The sense of importance and purpose knocked my socks off as a budding career woman and being a part of the pulsating, albeit at times bureaucratic, machine of the European Union was incredibly gratifying. Sprinkled with all the social experiences – particularly after dark at pubs and house parties – my memories of Belgium are unforgettable and had to be captured somehow in my fictional stories. I hope you get a chance to discover this exciting country and city too – either by book or in real life :-)

Happy travelling, happy reading and good luck to all in the World Cup!

Thank you to M.P. Tonnesen for this fabulous post about Belgium.

Author Biography

M.P. Tonnesen is a writer and businesswoman living on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. She was born in Denmark, but grew up in a multicultural family and has lived in Brussels, the Middle East, and London before moving to the island with her family in 2011.

She authors contemporary and women’s fiction with an adventurous twist. Her books are inspired by her experiences working, living and travelling around the world.
She has worked with communication from a variety of perspectives: business, academic and creative media. Her creative work has been published locally and globally, including her diverse portfolio of business and lifestyle articles for magazines.

She enjoys reading and telling good stories, travelling and eating dark chocolate. She also dabbles in yoga, pilates and juggling two kids.
Feel free to connect on social media @mptonnesen


What if life as you know it was turned upside down? Would you still be the same person?
When Chloe is forced to leave behind her cosmopolitan life in London to move to a small island in the Irish Sea, she is faced with a myriad of challenges.

How will she and her family adapt to island life? Will she find new friends? What about her career? Most importantly, will the love of Chloe and her husband survive their amorous adventures?
Join Chloe on her journey through her past and her present to make sense of her life, herself, her hopes, and dreams amid her personal upheaval.

The Cosmopolitan Islander is a thrilling story of female roles and identity in the 21st century – and about how the journey of life can change your destination in the most unexpected way. It takes the reader from the Isle of Man and around the world, traversing the timeless themes of love, desire, family, friendship, power, and ambition.

GOLD WINNER of the Circle of Books Rings of Honor Awards 2016.
Available as e-book and paperback on Amazon and from select local bookshops:
Also on Kindle Unlimited!

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