Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

I’ve gone. I’ve never seen the water, so I’ve gone there. I will try to remember to come back.

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.

From Amazon.

Whilst she is gone Otto waits at home for his wife with the recipe cards she left and memories of their time together. The other two characters mentioned in the title are Russell, a lifelong friend of Otto’s, and James, a friendly coyote who joins Etta for the journey.

The story alternates between the past and present and from Etta and Otto’s (and sometimes Russell’s) point of view. This, along with no speech marks, could be a little disorientating, but I found it added to the story rather than detracting from it. You find out what brought them together, what forced them apart and how Etta can sometimes not even remember her own name when she left. In her pocket she has a note reminding her of who she is and who her family and friends are.

The end of the book is left very open allowing you to draw your own conclusions about what was real and what wasn’t. I had to spend time thinking about the ending afterwards as I didn’t know how I felt!

Overall a touching story with highs and lows about family, friendship, love and war.

4/5 stars

If you like this you might also like Elizabeth is Missing

Get the book here (UK) Etta and Otto and Russell and James

Get the book here (US) Etta and Otto and Russell and James: A Novel

I received this book in exchange for a review on NetGalley 

4 thoughts on “Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

Add yours

  1. Sounds like you found this a really interesting read. I wondered how I would find the unusual style but it sounds as though you got to grips with it! The book has had a huge amount of publicity. Thanks for the great review!


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