Culture Street

There have been a number of terrific books written about pilgrimages. Each pilgrimage has been slightly different but they all share one common thread – walking numbs grief. Etta is confused about everything except her need to continue walking.

Etta's greatest unfulfilled wish, living in the rolling farmland of Saskatchewan in Canada, 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, her best boots and a piece of paper that has the names of those close to her, both living and dead, inscribed on it. She hopes this will remind her who she is as she loses her memory. Etta begins walking alone the 2,000 miles to the water.

Etta inevitably starts to forget things. Her husband, Otto, remembers everything, Their neighbour Russell remembers too, but differently - and he still loves Etta as much as he did more than fifty years ago, before she married Otto.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James moves from the present of a too-quiet-for-too-long Canadian farm to a dusty past of hunger, war, passion and hope, from trying to remember to trying to forget as, from prairie to forest to mountain to sand, Etta walks.

Emma Hooper is a musician who has just penned a fabulous debut novel. If you enjoyed The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry you will love this book.

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