Book Reviews

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting

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List Price: £8.99

 

Paperback: 416 Pages.

Published: 01 October 2018 by MacLehose Press

ISBN: 9780857056061

EAN: 9780857056061

Edvard grows up on a remote mountain farmstead in Norway with his taciturn grandfather, Sverre. The death of his parents, when he was three years old, has always been shrouded in mystery - he has never been told how or where it took place and has only a distant memory of his mother.

But he knows that the fate of his grandfather's brother, Einar, is somehow bound up with this mystery. One day a coffin is delivered for his grandfather long before his death - a meticulous, beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Perhaps Einar is not dead after all.

Edvard's desperate quest to unlock the family's tragic secrets takes him on a long journey - from Norway to the Shetlands, and to the battlefields of France - to the discovery of a very unusual inheritance. The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is about the love of wood and finding your own self, a beautifully intricate and moving tale that spans an entire century.

Reviews

4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Complex but Well Structured

This is a complex but well-structured story of Edvard & his family. Edvard is a Norwegian farmer, living with his Grandfather and just in his early 20s. His parents were killed in France in 1971, when he was 3. He has never quite filled in the gaps of what they were doing there and what happened when he disappeared for 4 days. His story takes him back through his family and its connections with the Shetlands and later into France.

I must take my hat off to the translator of this book. The descriptions are quite excellent - the wild and rough weather around the Shetlands, the intricacies of the wood and the silence of the woods in France. Sometimes translated books can be a little stilted or loose their depth of description but that was not the case in this book. This is a book in full technicolour with vivid descriptions and real depth.

Edvard is a complex character but very believable as a young man. He doesn't really know what he wants in life - though possibly not to grow old alone potato farming. He doesn't quite understand people and the complexities of their personalities and in many ways is very innocent. He has barely ever stepped outside his small area in Norway so has a great deal to learn! There are plenty of supporting characters who are equally well written with depth of character. Hanne is the slightly overbearing Norwegian girlfriend and Gwen the complicated girl he meets in Shetland who is way out of his league.There are also various family members who are defined more by what they didn't say or do than what they did.

There are a lot of themes in this book. You can take the story at face value - and a good story it is too. However there is a lot also about complicated relationships. Who keeps secrets and why? Why do people treat each other the way they do? The interaction of the characters both in the present and past is fascinating.

I very much enjoyed this book. I wasn't too sure about the ending. It fitted the facts with no problem but I wasn't sure it was exactly right - just a personal impression.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.

 
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