ETTA AND OTTO AND RUSSELL AND JAMES by Emma Hooper

Etta’s greatest unfulfilled wish, living in the rolling farmland of Saskatchewan, is to see the sea. And so, at the age of eighty-two she gets up very early one morning, takes a rifle, some chocolate, and her best boots, and begins walking the 2,000 miles to water.

Meanwhile her husband Otto waits patiently at home, left only with his memories. Their neighbor Russell remembers too, but differently – and he still loves Etta as much as he did more than fifty years ago, before she married Otto.

The characters have such a touching vulnerability, they have known each other for such a long time, have a shared past that is memorable. A book about a journey, a quest if you will, about memories, longing and unfulfilled desires.

Is it unrealistic that an eighty two year old woman who is losing her memory will set out on a walk to the ocean that is 3232 kilometers away ( just over 2008 miles?  Sure it is, but then I think of some of the candidates running for president of the US, and frankly, I don’t know how they have the stamina, so I am open to believe anything.   Joining her is a coyote named James.  Whether he really exists or not is up for debate, sharing as he does the name of the baby her sister adopted out when she became a nun, and possibly the name of the baby she lost to a miscarriage, who may or not have been named James in her mind.

It was really a poignant story, and one that you either get, and love, or is just totally ho hum for you.   Maybe one´s age when one reads it has a lot to do with what you think about it.

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