Friday, May 1, 2015

Review: Etta and Otto and Russel and James by Emma Hooper

My rating: 1.5*/5 stars
Original language: English
Series: -
Genre: Adult, Historical, Contemporary
Published: January 29th 2015 by Penguin
Pages: 281 pages (paperback)
Source: Received from Blogg Dein Buch and Penguin Random House
*-Please remember that this does not equal the Goodreads or the Amazon five-star.
Links: Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
'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 the water. 

But Etta is starting to forget things. Her husband, Otto, remembers everything, and he loves her: surely they can balance things out?

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.

Rocking back and forth with the pull of the waves, Etta and Otto and Russell and James moves from the present of a too-quiet-for-too-long Canadian farm to a dusty past of hunger, war, passion and hope, from trying to remember to trying to forget as, from prairie to forest to mountain to sand, Etta walks

My Thoughts

I really wanted to like Etta and Otto and Russel and James - Partly because of its gorgeous cover, and of course because of the premise. I mean, an 80-year-old who travels across the country by foot, wanting to see the sea for the first time in her life just shouts ‘unique kind of adventure’. And it could have been. But to me, it was not.

It was told a bit like a fairy tale. Very slow, very calm. There is no action at all, or to put it correct: The action that is there is very well concealed and not exactly compelling. In general, I think, the writing style was just not my kind. For example, the unhighlighted speech (Well, okay, my mother told me that this is actually not uncommon or anything and apparently quite intellectual seeming but… uuuuh… In that case I’d rather read the non-intellectual books.) gets pretty confusing.

And the characters felt so familiar. I did not once have the feeling of getting to know someone I don’t already know. They did not feel unique or even interesting. I just did not care at all.

There were some things about the storyline that bothered me as well: When Otto goes to the army (I think this is WWII? I’m not quite sure though), away from his home, his friends and his family no one acts like it’s something big. Like he may not return after all. And he started writing letters to Etta, his teacher and somewhere down the way they developed a romantic relationship – I just didn’t get where that happened. To me they just seemed like good friends.

But since it was on more than a few bestseller charts I assume a lot of people don’t have any problems with the speech not being highlighted or with slow paced stories. So for those of you: Read it, you might enjoy it. It just wasn’t my type.

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