Today’s batch of Shiny linkiness from my reviews in issue 5 of Shiny New Books features three debut novels. All absolute crackers! Please click through to read the full reviews and join in the comments:
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
This is a quirky quest novel, wherein 80-year-old Etta decides to walk to the sea – 2000 miles from Saskatchewan to the Atlantic Ocean. She leaves behind two men who love her, husband Otto and neighbour Russell, and we’ll find out all about the three of them as her journey goes on. And no, it’s not the Canadian Harold Fry – it’s totally different.
This novel was a quirky yet understated pleasure to read – I loved it.
Click here to read my full review (and see a clip of Emma talking about her grandparents who inspired the book).
Fire Flowers by Ben Byrne
Europa Editions’ first British novel is a story of lost siblings and romance set in Tokyo following the prolonged firestorm that moreorless destroyed the city, and starts on the day of the Japanese surrender at the end of WWII.
The story is told by four characters. Satsuko Takara and her younger brother Hiroshi have been orphaned and separated by the firestorm. Satsuko will never give up looking for her teenaged brother, whereas he assumes she is probably dead. Then there is Hal Lynch – an American who used to be an aerial photographer, now a photo journalist for the US press in Tokyo. Lastly we follow Osamu Maruki, a writer and Satsuko’s lover before he was sent to the South Pacific. The four have separate lives in the ruined city, and they will cross paths although not necessarily meeting.
Fire Flowers is the first novel I’ve read set during this time and place. It was a gripping historical story, heart-breaking and heart-warming in equal measure. A remarkable debut – I loved it too.
Click here to read my full review
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
It tells of a girl Peggy, daughter of Ute, a German concert pianist and James – a survivalist. In 1976, James takes little Peggy off to live in a hut in the woods in the Black Forest, telling her the rest of the world has gone. Nine years later she is back, naturally damaged by her experience. We tease out the story of what happened in the book’s present and in flashback. It is full of fairy-tale resonance, very dark, sometimes humorous, but always full of music. Absolutely fantastic!
Click here to read my full review.
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Source: Publishers – thank you all!
To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below (affiliate link):
- Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller. Fig Tree hardback, 2015, 304 pages.
- Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper. Fig Tree hardback, 2015, 288 pages.
- Fire Flowers by Ben Byrne. Europa Editions 2015, 368 pages.