The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Brilliant! And full marks to the translator who kept the rhythm and lyrical prose in his English translation. This really is a must read for the prose, the story and the ideas.
It's a good job the cover clearly states 'novel' because I could easily believe that this novel was faction, based on a true story. It isn't, but it ought to be! Set in Norway, and the Shetland Isles, with a brief trip to France and the Somme, author Lars Mytting's research is solid. He certainly got the upper middle class Scottish attitudes spot on. His descriptions of the battlefields are haunting.
I don't want to give away the plot or the importance of the sixteen trees because really the novel is about a young man growing up, breaking out of his shell, and becoming what he chooses to be.
Edvard is orphaned when he is three. He has vague memories and his grandfather won't tell him anything. After his grandfather dies he takes a physical journey to find out what happened and in doing so he has to make decisions and choices which will make him become the Edvard we hope he will become. He could easily have made different choices but we readers are glad he didn't.
It is a book to savour, reread and marvel over. Readers who like a good intelligent challenging read will enjoy this novel. I found myself thinking about it for days after I'd returned it to the library.
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