I’ve been curious about Emma Hooper‘s debut novel Etta and Otto and Russell and James ever since I first heard about it in October. I was over the moon when Penguin Random House UK sent me a review copy. Thank you so much!
Etta, an eighty-two-year-old woman decides to walk thousands of miles from rural Saskatchewan to the Canadian East coast to see the sea for the very first time. Her understanding husband Otto waits for her and is confident that his wife will succeed, while their friend and neighbor Russell isn’t that patient and fears that Etta might forget who she is.
Taking only the bare necessities with her, Etta starts her walk through the Canadian wilderness, avoiding big cities and roads. Along the way, Emma Hooper paints wonderful pictures of Canada’s diverse landscape and you can certainly imagine walking through fields and along lake shores.
For all her life, Etta has been the one left behind while others went away, now she feels it’s time for her to finally see the rest of Canada. The fact that Etta starts this walk even though she occasionally suffers from memory loss adds tension to the novel and shows how determined Etta is to reach her goal.
In Etta and Otto and Russell and James Emma Hooper makes great use of flashbacks, letters and even recipes to tell Etta’s story and sometimes you can’t be sure if the things happening are real, imagined, or magical. Etta and Otto and Russell and James is not just another novel about an elderly person deciding to go for a very long walk, it has more depth than that. If you like stories that feel as if they were real, this book is for you.