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Etta and Otto and Russell and James

by Emma Hooper

When 80 year old Etta embarks on a pilgrimage of 2000 miles on foot, from the 'Prairie Province' of Canada to the sea, the walk becomes a journey through her memories and a poignant meditation on friendship, loss, love and ageing. The impressionistic style, with its lyrical rhythmic cadences, reflects the dreamlike quality of Etta’s state of dementia - even those readers who don't care for magical realism will find it hard to resist its charm.

Extract

Etta and Russell would go dancing every night now. They had asked around and made a list of all the events in all the villages and towns in the district. They rode on Russell’s horses or in Etta’s father’s car. Despite his bad leg, Russell danced pretty well, just in half-time to everyone else. Etta didn’t mind, it gave her more time to do turns. They started to recognize all the musicians and tipped hats to each other walking in or out. Most of them were old men or farm girls. Everyone was exhausted from farm or factory work, circles under their eyes, calluses on their hands, but they still put on good shoes and pressed clothes and played and played and played and danced and danced and danced.

Parallels

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
The Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
 

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