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.
I like this kind of fiction. Time moves slower, the prose is different. It's even jumpy at times. But I need it in my book diet.
But sure it took some getting used to when there were no quotations marks when someone spoke. It's like no one ever spoke in a way. A silent book, that I read fast because the writing was good.
Etta is over 80 and decides she wants to see the ocean so she packs her things and walks. Otto her husband misses her but tries to cook and bake by himself for once. Their neighbor Russel worries for her, and James is a coyote that she becomes friends with.
In between the walking, and Otto trying to cope, there are passages from the past. Otto growing up, meeting Russell. Etta growing up, and meeting them both. Their life in the village, and then the war coming. I did like the images from the past. But I also liked the present, Otto was interesting.
The end was, honestly I am not sure what happened. Was I supposed to figure it out? Or make my own? Or nothing happened? Beats me.
A good book.
I did not see the people at first
Paperback, 281 pages
Published January 29th 2015 by Penguin
Fiction / Historical fiction