My Week in Books – 15th August 2021

MyWeekinBooks

On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I published my review of the audiobook of This Lovely City by Louise Hare, one of my 20 Books of Summer 2021.

Tuesday This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was Secondary Characters Who Deserve More Love.

WednesdayWWW Wednesday is the opportunity to share what I’ve just read, what I’m currently reading and what I plan to read next… and to have a good nose around what others are reading. 

Thursday – I shared my review of historical crime novel, A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry, another of my 20 Books of Summer 2021.

Friday – I published my review of Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller, also one of my 20 Books of Summer 2021.

Saturday – I shared my thoughts on the audiobook version of The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Simon Mawer.

As always, thanks to everyone who has liked, commented on or shared my blog posts on social media.


New arrivals

LemonLemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun, translated by Janet Hong (eARC, Head of Zeus)

In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.

Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.

Told at different points in time from the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on’s classmates, Lemon is a piercing psychological portrait that takes the shape of a crime novel and is a must-read novel of 2021.

The Silence of ScherazadeThe Silence of Scheherazade by Defne Suman, translated by Betsy Göksel (eARC, Head of Zeus)

On an orange-tinted evening in September 1905, Scheherazade is born to an opium-dazed mother in the ancient city of Smyrna. At the very same moment, a dashing Indian spy arrives in the harbour with a secret mission from the British Empire. He sails in to golden-hued spires and minarets, scents of fig and sycamore, and the cries of street hawkers selling their wares. When he leaves, seventeen years later, it will be to the heavy smell of kerosene and smoke as the city, and its people, are engulfed in flames.

But let us not rush, for much will happen between then and now. Birth, death, romance and grief are all to come as these peaceful, cosmopolitan streets are used as bargaining chips in the wake of the First World War.

Told through the intertwining fates of a Levantine, a Greek, a Turkish and an Armenian family, this unforgettable novel reveals a city, and a culture, now lost to time.

The Sweetness of WaterThe Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris (hardcover)

In the waning days of the Civil War, brothers Prentiss and Landry – freed by the Emancipation Proclamation – seek refuge on the homestead of George Walker and his wife, Isabelle. The Walkers, wracked by the loss of their only son to the war, hire the brothers to work their farm, hoping through an unexpected friendship to stanch their grief. Prentiss and Landry, meanwhile, plan to save money for the journey north and a chance to reunite with their mother, who was sold away when they were boys.

Parallel to their story runs a forbidden romance between two Confederate soldiers. The young men, recently returned from the war to the town of Old Ox, hold their trysts in the woods. But when their secret is discovered, the resulting chaos, including a murder, unleashes convulsive repercussions on the entire community. In the aftermath of so much turmoil, it is Isabelle who emerges as an unlikely leader, proffering a healing vision for the land and for the newly free citizens of Old Ox.


On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Book Review: A Line To Kill by Anthony Horowitz
  • Top Ten Tuesday
  • WWW Wednesday
  • Book Review: Wolf at the Door by Sarah Hawkswood
  • Book Review: End of Summer by Anders de la Motte
  • Book Review: Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army by Edoardo Albert

#BookReview One Last Time by Helga Flatland @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for One Last Time by Helga Flatland, translated by Rosie Hedger. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Orenda Books for my digital review copy.


One Last TimeAbout the Book

Anne’s life is rushing to an unexpected and untimely end. But her diagnosis of terminal cancer isn’t just a shock for her – and for her daughter Sigrid and granddaughter Mia – it shines a spotlight onto their fractured and uncomfortable relationships.

On a spur-of-the moment trip to France the three generations of women reveal harboured secrets, long-held frustrations and suppressed desires, and learn humbling and heart-warming lessons about how life should be lived when death is so close.

Format: Paperback (276 pages)     Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication date: 24th June 2021 Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Find One Last Time on Goodreads

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My Review

I enjoyed Helga Flatland’s previous book, A Modern Family, for its perceptive examination of the impact on the various members of one family of an unexpected announcement. The author returns to similar territory in this book using Anne’s cancer diagnosis as the starting point for an insightful exploration of how this affects her relationships with her daughter, Sigrid, her granddaughter, Mia, and other members of her family.

In fact, the strained relationships in the family go well beyond Anne. For example, Sigrid and her daughter Mia find it difficult to communicate, principally because of the breakdown many years before of Sigrid’s relationship with Mia’s biological father, Jens. Sigrid’s relationship with her current partner, Aslak, with whom she has a young son, is also showing signs of strain.

Having praised the author’s ‘spare, precise prose’ in my review of A Modern Family, I was surprised to find the writing style quite different in this book. I confess some of the long sentences made up of multiple clauses separated by commas left me craving a full stop or semi-colon. I can only assume this was a deliberate style choice by the author intended to convey the undisciplined nature of the thoughts running through the minds of the main characters. Although it did affect my reading experience a little, it didn’t prevent me being drawn into the story which unfolds in chapters alternating between the points of view of Anne and Sigrid.

A particularly touching element of the book is Anne’s relationship with her husband Gustav, incapacitated following a series of strokes, the first of which occurred when Sigrid was young. Gustav is now in a nursing home needing round the clock care. It was also interesting to see Anne reflect on the way her diagnosis has changed her role within the family. It seems to her a curious role reversal that Sigrid and Magnus (Anne’s son) are now organizing between themselves who will look after her following her operation and treatment.

The fact that Sigrid is a doctor (a General Practitioner) provides another fascinating angle to the story. Being more aware than most of the likely outcome of her mother’s illness only seems to increase Sigrid’s sense of powerlessness. At the same time, it brings to the surface memories of her childhood when her mother’s attention was on her father not her. Whether justified or not, the forgotten birthdays, unprepared packed lunches and unlaundered school uniforms have left Sigrid with a lifelong feeling of abandonment, betrayal even. This is possibly why Sigrid invests so much of her professional time in one of her patients, a troubled young woman named Frida.

As her illness progresses, Anne’s focus becomes all about leaving behind good memories for others, things that will make her family remember her with affection. It’s partly this that provokes the trip to France, a place Anne had always planned to visit with Gustav, although I didn’t find it quite the pivotal event the blurb suggests.

One Last Time explores the unexpected events that can bring chaos and confusion to a family, exposing pre-existing strains but also potentially providing the opportunity for the healing of old wounds. It’s a powerful and emotional story told with a deft touch.

In three words: Tender, perceptive, moving

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Helga Author PicAbout the Author

Helga Flatland is already one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors. Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize. She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family (her first English translation), was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies. One Last Time was published in Norway in 2020, where it topped the bestseller lists, and was shortlisted for the Norwegian Booksellers Award.

About the Translator

Rosie Hedger was born in Scotland and completed her MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh, where she graduated with a distinction in Norwegian. Rosie spent a year at the University of Oslo, taking courses in Norwegian language and literature and researching for her dissertation on contemporary Norwegian fiction. Since completing her studies, Rosie has also lived in Sweden and Denmark, and is now based in the UK.

One Last Time BT Poster