So Long, Marianne: A Love Story – by Kari Hesthamar

I have just recently discovered Leonard Cohen’s music, or at least thought so. It was the renewed interest in his song Hallelujah that was the starting point. It was one of the songs that my ukulele teacher used for a lesson. I hadn’t heard it before but I knew that it was popular. I didn’t realize at that time that it was an old song.

Later I was watching television and came across a public tv program called Tower of Song, a celebration of Leonard Cohen’s music on the anniversary of his death. I was impressed by the artists doing the retrospective of Cohen’s songs, particularly the song So Long, Marianne, sung by Adam Cohen, Leonard’s son. I bought all of Cohen’s studio albums (well, CDs) and was surprised to hear on the earliest one the song Suzanne. Son of a gun, I remember that from my slightly younger years. I didn’t know that was him.

As a characteristic example of synchronicity, this book showed up on a list of books recommended to me, and with my new-found interest in Cohen I decided to see who this Marianne was that so captivated Cohen. It opened a window into the culture of the times – the late 50s, 60s and early 70s. It’s the story of a woman who struggled to find her own way in the world.

The book details Marianne’s early relationship and marriage to Axel Jensen and her meeting Leonard Cohen and her life with him, as well as much that took place in her life when she was not with these two men. In the end, it’s the story of a woman who thought, at least originally, that she was going to find herself in someone else. It really sounded like a story of the sixties.

The book ended abruptly. I was kind of expecting a bit more of the rest of her life after these relationships, but I guess the story was supposed to be about those relationships and not a full biography. The author does provide a few paragraphs outlining the rest of Marianne’s life, but not with anything like the detail in the rest of the book.

The book provided me the information I had been looking for, which was what the relationship was between Leonhard and Marianne. If you are interested in the same thing, read it.

Finished 10/13/18