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One of our Books of the Year 2015.
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
Genuinely moving. (Guardian). Delightful. (Mail on Sunday). Charming, fresh, touching...cuts through to the heart. (Sunday Times). 'Tell me about home, please. Tell me about the weather. About the heat or dust or still-ness. Anything. And tell me about you. I keep your photo on the side without the gun. For balance.' This is a love story that spans fifty years, three lives, two continents and an ocean. It tells of school teacher Etta, who settles in the Canadian prairies during the Great Depression and of the two pupils who fall in love with her: Russell, a city boy who takes to farming despite his twisted leg, and Otto, who struggles in school but always tries hard - even when he's sent to fight a war in a distant land. It is a story of love and joy, pain and passion, memory and forgetting - and one incredible journey. It is the story of Etta and Otto and Russell and James.
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.
'Writing that easily equals that of the Booker-winning Richard Flanagan...[and] as readable and gripping as any thriller. Only the thrills offered by this bright new star of literature are metaphysical and unexpected and will leave you thinking on a new level about the connections between men, women and places.' The Times
'Beautifully written...this deserves to follow in the footsteps of 2014's big debut novels The Miniaturist and Elizabeth Is Missing.' Daily Express
'Intriguing... a clear and beautifully unadorned prose style... Hooper has written an interesting, nuanced and genuinely moving book.' Guardian
'Hooper has more or less nailed the 'Amelie charm with this sweet, disarming story of lasting love ...Hooper shows great restraint in balancing the quirky with the universal, blurring the lines between them. This may be the best novel to meaningfully feature windblown dust. Hooper's steady hand creates the perfect setup for the unexpected. To paraphrase Wallace Stevens: A man and a woman are one. Two men, a woman and a coyote are one.' New York Times
'Luminous debut...there's a lovely musicality to her prose - care and attention have been spent on the rhythms and melody of her words...wonderfully tender.' Sunday Express
'Her debut novel is a magical, big-hearted book about one woman's walk to the sea. If Wes Anderson's stylised dream worlds make you happy, you need a copy of Etta and Otto and Russell and James.' Elle Magazine
'A fan of Audrey Niffenegger and Alice Munro, Hooper's sense of playfulness comes across in the book's gentle magical realism' The Observer
Publication date: 27/08/2015
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 29/01/2015
Publisher: Fig Tree an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
|Publication date:||27th August 2015|
|Publisher:||Penguin Books Ltd|
|Genres:||Reader Reviewed Books, eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Reading Groups,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
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 TompkinsMore About Emma Hooper