Author: Emma Hooper
Published: January 29th 2015 by Fig Tree
Amazon | Amazon UK
Blurb: 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.
Review: Etta and Otto and Russell and James is a very unique story about three people who have grown older together but still have a lot to live. For example, Etta has never seen the ocean and is determinate to see it before she dies. She is already eighty-two and shows clear signs of dementia so it's now or never. She starts an epic journey on foot heading east to see the water and as she tells Otto, she will try to remember to come back.
But we don't only read about her journey, thanks to flashbacks and old letters we start getting little pieces of Etta, Otto and Russell's past, how they met, how Otto left to fight in the war, how they felt in love... But not everything is told, a lot of crucial parts to their story are left untold, open to interpretation, which made the book more appealing to me. I had the liberty and the privilege to imagine their full story.
You must be wondering who James is by now. Well the name James holds a lot of meaning for Etta so when a talking coyote joins her on her journey to see the ocean, she names him James. He is a character who makes me both happy and sad as he keeps company to her and helps her but at the same time he is prove of her illness, how she no longer appreciate the difference between reality and imagination. And makes me wonder through all the story whether she will remember to come back.
Etta, Otto and Russell lived simple lives, but Emma Hooper tells their story beautifully. With a sweet and simple style, she has a special way with words. It took me a bit to get used to her way of writing, with no quotation marks and jumps from past to present but once I was captured by the story, I couldn't stop reading. Some of the letters exchanged between the characters and some of the dialogues are works of art. They hold so much meaning and emotion in a couple of simple sentences. This book is an out-standing debut and for me, Emma Hooper is one author to watch.