Etta and Otto and Russell and James

by Emma Hooper

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LoveReading View on Etta and Otto and Russell and James

February 2015 MEGA Debut of the Month.

Etta, after being married to Otto for many years, decides, aged 82, that she wants to see the sea before she dies so she sets off from their farm in the middle of Canada to walk to the coast – alone. On her journey she is joined by a lovely companion, James. The narrative moves backwards and forwards in time. As she travels we learn about their separate childhoods, how Russell, an only child, moved into a neighbouring farm and was absorbed into Otto’s large family. We learn how both boys meet Etta when she becomes the local school teacher. Russell had a childhood accident so when war breaks out he is unable to join the army and becomes very friendly with Etta while Otto is serving his country. As Etta’s journey progresses somehow the link between the characters seems to strengthen and in a way their past histories become blurred and mixed so that in the end the true events are puzzling, left for you to interpret. Hypnotic and a joy to read, this is a delightful, fascinating tale, magical, lyrical, a very special book indeed.

Sarah Broadhurst

Etta and Otto and Russell and James Synopsis

I've gone. I've never seen the water, so I've gone there. I will try to remember to come back. Etta's greatest unfulfilled wish, living in the rolling farmland of Saskatchewan, is to see the sea. And so, at the age of eighty-two she gets up very early one morning, takes a rifle, some chocolate, and her best boots, and begins walking the 2, 000 miles to water. Meanwhile her husband Otto waits patiently at home, left only with his memories. Their neighbour Russell remembers too, but differently - and he still loves Etta as much as he did more than fifty years ago, before she married Otto.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Angela O'Donovan - 'I’ve just re-read the last few pages and relived the feeling I had when I finished it a few days ago – a deep hollow feeling of loss that only sometimes makes itself felt when coming to the end of a really satisfying read.' Read full review >
  • Val Brown - 'If you liked the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, you will love this.  Etta is in her 80's and decides to walk across Canada to see the Ocean.' Read full review >
  • Julie Bertschin - 'Beautifully written tale of the lives of Etta and Otto. Etta's journey across Canada to reach the ocean is a moving portrayal through letters of their hard lives together. A wonderful story.' Read full review >
  • Judith Smith - 'This is a compelling story about unfilled ambition, unrequited love and memories.' Read full review >
  • Glynis Elliott - 'This novel was beautifully written, quite lyrical in fact.' Read full review >
  • Judith Sharp - 'I really enjoyed it...A strange and unworldly tale unfolds.  If you like Garrison Keillor then you will like this.' Read full review >
  • Emma Halford - 'A sweeping, bittersweet tale of journeys, memories recalled and reconstructed and the paradox of distance - emotional and physical -  in bringing people closer.' Read full review >
  • Cathy Small - 'An enjoyable read with an easy to read storyline. It is moving in places where the characters tried to rearrange their lives and their time with the changes.' Read full review >
  • Kerry Bridges - 'I loved this book and I would recommend it to fans of Rachel Joyce and Alexander McCall Smith.  One of my favourite books this year.' Read full review >
  • Alison Layland - 'A slightly surreal, moving story of love and friendship.'
  • Victoria Emerson - 'My favourite book of the year.' Read full review >
  • Rebecca Cockeram - 'Not as good as I hoped it would be.' Read full review >

The Good Book Guide Review

Etta is 83 and has never seen the sea. One day she leaves her Saskatchewan home and her beloved husband Otto, of over fifty years, to walk the 2000 miles to the coast – alone (until she meets James) – to fulfil her lifelong dream. Otto loves her, and knows she must have the freedom to do the journey, and believes her decision is the right one. Their neighbour Russell loves Etta too, and has known her for as long as Otto, but he is worried and sets off after her. This whimsical tale is a complete delight, taking us not only on Etta’s journey to the sea, but also on a journey back through her life, and that of Otto’s and Russell’s. The three have had an event-filled past and our life seems richer for knowing about it. A wonderful debut novel, full of adventures, and a wealth of happiness, tears and experiences.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James Press Reviews

'An irresistibly enchanting debut novel' Booklist

 

'This is a quietly powerful story whose dreamlike quality lingers long after the last page is turned.' Library Journal Review

 

'Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper is incredibly moving, beautifully written and luminous with wisdom. It is a book that restores one's faith in life even as it deepens its mystery. Wonderful!' -- Chris Cleave

 

'Hooper, with great insight, explores the interactions and connections between spouses and friends - the rivalries, the camaraderie, the joys and tragedies - and reveals the extraordinary lengths to which people will go in the name of love.' Publishers Weekly

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780241003329
Publication date: 29/01/2015
Publisher: Fig Tree an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780241003329
Publication date: 29th January 2015
Author: Emma Hooper
Publisher: Fig Tree an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback
Genres: Reader Reviewed Books, Debuts of the Month, eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Reading Groups,
Categories:

About Emma Hooper

Raised in Alberta, Canada, Emma Hooper brought her love of music and literature to the UK, where she received a doctorate in Musico-Literary studies at the University of East-Anglia and currently lectures at Bath Spa University. A musician, Emma performs as the solo artist Waitress for the Bees, and was awarded a Finnish Cultural Knighthood. She also performs with the Stringbeans Quartet and has toured with Peter Gabriel and Toni Braxton. She lives in Bath, UK, but goes home to Canada to cross-country ski whenever she can.   Author photo © Martin Tompkins

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