Archives for Canada

Book review: Etta and Otto and Russell and James

This was a ‘sort of’ book for me. I ‘sort of’ enjoyed it but… I was ‘sort of’ irritated with it too. The story premise for Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper grabbed me straightaway, and the excellent first paragraph. “Otto, The letter began, in blue ink. I’ve gone. I’ve never seen the water, so I’ve gone there. Don’t worry…” Etta and Otto are in their eighties. The setting is Canada. Etta sets out one day to walk towards the water, which means either east to the Atlantic or west to the Pacific. She goes east. Otto stays at home, working his way through Etta’s index cards, trying hard to make cinnamon buns like hers. Gradually we learn their back stories: Otto’s childhood on the farm then as a soldier in France during the Second World War; of Etta’s teaching days and then a munitions worker. The Russell in the title is their childhood neighbour and friend. The James of the title is a coyote. I was unclear why Etta was walking, unclear why Otto seemed philosophical and Russell concerned by her adventure. The relationships are enigmatic, the memories are fluid, which I found confusing. And what precisely
Read More

Categories: Book Love.