Reading: Emma Hooper's Etta and Otto and Russell and James
I probably would have bought Emma Hooper's debut novel, Etta and Otto and Russell and James, even if it hadn't already sat in my virtual shopping basket for a few months after seeing the cover occasionally pop up on my Instagram feed – I mean, have you seen that cover?! Now, I'm in no way making a case for using Instagram as a means of selecting your latest read, but when Hannah-Rose Yee takes a photo of a book, you take note. So imagine my joy when I found this book at the same train station bookstore, where merely two weeks earlier I had purchased Laline Paull's The Bees – you might call it my local book dealer by now, what a shame that it's situated in Hamburg, not Berlin.
With Etta and Otto and Russell and James, Emma Hooper manages to enthuse me, make my imagination run wild. When 82-year-old Etta Vogel sets off from her home in Canada's Saskatchewan area in search of the sea, leaving no more than a note and a neat pile of recipe cards for her husband, Otto Vogel, she leaves behind a husband and neighbour and many memories. What follows is a story of the present and the past, a carefully spun tale of talking coyotes and the pains of love and war, poverty and friendship. Although not always roaming the most plausible grounds, I couldn't help but get swept up by Hooper's skillful, pensive writing and shed more than a few tears in the process.