Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Last Boat Home by Dea Brovig

review by Maryom

Else was like any other teenager in her small Norwegian town, catching the ferry to school each day, sneaking out at night to meet her boyfriend Lars, and dreaming of the day she'd leave her close-knit community for the wider world. Dreams that end when she falls pregnant.
Now 30 years later, Lars' return to their home town, makes Else face up to her past and the events that shaped her life.

The Last Boat Home is a  deeply atmospheric novel, capturing the claustrophobic atmosphere of a close knit, isolated community, where religion plays a large part of people's lives and a visit from a travelling circus is cause for great excitement. Else's home is a beautiful but harsh place, squashed between the fjord on one side and mountains on the other, dominated by the moods of the sea and the weather.
 In such a place it's hard to keep a secret - so the neighbours know all about Else's father hiding out in his boat shed, brewing his moonshine liquor and drinking himself into a stupor most nights, and her mother's bruises which she tries to hide as she bustles about between house and church meetings. What they don't know, is who is to blame for fathering Else's child. 

It's a little like a murder-mystery, for as the story slips between the present day and that fateful time back in the 1970s, slowly teasing out the events leading up to Else's pregnancy, the reader can't help but try to work out the culprit, and, of course, keep turning the pages to find out.  

This is one of those books that I stumbled on completely by accident, following a retweet of one of the author's comments. The novel's setting and plot outline intrigued me, and reading it didn't disappoint.

Looking for the links I discovered this article about the place that inspired the author - though the photos are all sunny and summery, not of wintry snow and ice.

Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Windmill Books
Genre - adult fiction,

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