Edvard grows up on a remote mountain farmstead in Norway with his taciturn grandfather, Sverre. The death of his parents, when he was three years old, has always been shrouded in mystery – he has never been told how or where it took place and has only a distant memory of his mother.
But he knows that the fate of his grandfather’s brother, Einar, is somehow bound up with this mystery. One day a coffin is delivered for his grandfather long before his death – a meticulous, beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Perhaps Einar is not dead after all.
Edvard’s desperate quest to unlock the family’s tragic secrets takes him on a long journey – from Norway to the Shetlands, and to the battlefields of France – to the discovery of a very unusual inheritance. The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is about the love of wood and finding your own self, a beautifully intricate and moving tale that spans an entire century.
I’m going to start this review off with an apology at the quality of it. I’ve tried and tried to think of some things to say about this book but my mind is drawing a blank. I read this novel during a bit of a slump and I feel as though I just drifted through it.
I know I enjoyed it, not as much as I’d hoped, but enough to not dislike it. And I know that it got very emotional and I had a bit of a cry fest at the end. But from there, I’m a bit stuck… How do I do this review thing again?
Characters in this one are different. You feel like you really get to know them throughout the story, but when you’ve finished the book you realise you didn’t really know them at all. They were well developed and were talked about enough, but it was as though they were behind a screen. The characters themselves talked about how another character was hiding behind a mask, but you come to realise that all the characters were wearing masks, not just from each other, but from the reader too.
The story is a bit of a strange one and I felt it losing me in some points. It was a story about love, loss, grief and mystery. But very different to the kinds of mystery you’re used to seeing on my blog. This one is certainly unique, but is definitely a slow mover, so anyone looking for something fast-paced, pass this one up.
I can’t work out what more to say. If you like emotional, slow moving novels in moody settings with distant characters, this book is definitely something for you. I’m glad I stepped a little out of my comfort zone with this one because I did enjoy it, but it’s not the type of book I could read a lot.
Thank you to Hatchette & MacLehose Press for sending me an arc copy for review.