Etta and Otto and Russell and James: A Novel

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This “poetic, poignant” (US Weekly) debut features last great adventures, unlikely heroes, and a “sweet, disarming story of lasting love” (The New York Times Book Review).

Eighty-three-year-old Etta has never seen the ocean. So early one morning she takes a rifle, some chocolate, and her best boots and begins walking the 3,232 kilometers from rural Saskatchewan, Canada eastward to the sea. As Etta walks further toward the crashing waves, the lines among memory, illusion, and reality blur.

Otto wakes to a note left on the kitchen table. “I will try to remember to come back,” Etta writes to her husband. Otto has seen the ocean, having crossed the Atlantic years ago to fight in a far-away war. He understands. But with Etta gone, the memories come crowding in and Otto struggles to keep them at bay. Meanwhile, their neighbor Russell has spent his whole life trying to keep up with Otto and loving Etta from afar. Russell insists on finding Etta, wherever she’s gone. Leaving his own farm will be the first act of defiance in his life.

Moving from the hot and dry present of a quiet Canadian farm to a dusty, burnt past of hunger, war, and passion, from trying to remember to trying to forget, Etta and Otto and Russell and James is an astounding literary debut “of deep longing, for reinvention and self-discovery, as well as for the past and for love and for the boundless unknown” (San Francisco Chronicle). “In this haunting debut, set in a starkly beautiful landscape, Hooper delineates the stories of Etta and the men she loved (Otto and Russell) as they intertwine through youth and wartime and into old age. It’s a lovely book you’ll want to linger over” (People).
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About the author

Raised in Alberta, Canada, Emma Hooper brought her love of music and literature to the UK, where she received a doctorate in Musico-Literary studies at the University of East-Anglia and currently lectures at Bath Spa University. A musician, Emma performs as the solo artist Waitress for the Bees and plays with a number of bands. She lives in Bath, UK, but goes home to Canada to cross-country ski whenever she can. She is the author of Etta and Otto and Russell and James and Our Homesick Songs.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jan 20, 2015
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781476755700
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Women
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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From the bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry comes an exquisite love story about Queenie Hennessy, the remarkable friend who inspired Harold’s cross-country journey.

A runaway international bestseller, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry followed its unassuming hero on an incredible journey as he traveled the length of England on foot—a journey spurred by a simple letter from his old friend Queenie Hennessy, writing from a hospice to say goodbye. Harold believed that as long as he kept walking, Queenie would live. What he didn’t know was that his decision to walk had caused her both alarm and fear. How could she wait? What would she say? Forced to confront the past, Queenie realizes she must write again.

In this poignant parallel story to Harold’s saga, acclaimed author Rachel Joyce brings Queenie Hennessy’s voice into sharp focus. Setting pen to paper, Queenie makes a journey of her own, a journey that is even bigger than Harold’s; one word after another, she promises to confess long-buried truths—about her modest childhood, her studies at Oxford, the heartbreak that brought her to Kingsbridge and to loving Harold, her friendship with his son, the solace she has found in a garden by the sea. And, finally, the devastating secret she has kept from Harold for all these years.

A wise, tender, layered novel that gathers tremendous emotional force, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy underscores the resilience of the human spirit, beautifully illuminating the small yet pivotal moments that can change a person’s life.

Praise for The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

“In the end, this lovely book is full of joy. Much more than the story of a woman’s enduring love for an ordinary, flawed man, it’s an ode to messy, imperfect, glorious, unsung humanity. . . . [Queenie’s] love song is for us. Thank you, Rachel Joyce.”—The Washington Post

“Destined to change your world. One can’t help but see life, and the end of it, differently after experiencing this novel. Full of wisdom and heart, it will overwhelm its readers with a deep sensitivity.”—Bookreporter

“[A] beguiling follow-up . . . In telling Queenie’s side of the story, Joyce accomplishes the rare feat of endowing her continuing narrative with as much pathos and warmth, wisdom and poignancy as her debut. Harold was beloved by millions; Queenie will be, too.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Delightful and dark . . . But Joyce is so deft that when the book is over and you close the cover, the darkness fades. What sticks with you is the light of Queenie’s unwavering love.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“[A] deeply affecting novel . . . Culminating in a shattering revelation, [Queenie’s] tale is funny, sad, hopeful: She’s bound for death, but full of life.”—People

“Joyce’s writing at moments has a simplicity that sings. She captures hope best of all.”—The Guardian

“Joyce has a wonderfully evocative turn of phrase and like her other books this is a delightful read. . . . Uplifting and moving.”—Daily Express

“Joyce nicely calls the book a companion rather than a sequel. But The Love Song is bolder than a retread of the same material from another angle. . . . After two such involving novels, readers are bound to wish for a third.”—The Telegraph

“[Joyce] manages to both add depth to an already strong work and build something new and beautiful upon it.”—The A.V. Club
Winner of the McKitterick First Novel Award. Shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction. “One of the most remarkable books ever written on the subject of Wales” – Jan Morris on Lloyd Jones' extraordinary debut novel, Mr Vogel. Acclaimed novelist Iain Sinclair, meanwhile, has described it as “the tour-guide Wales has been waiting for.” One of the most original and engaging novels to appear from – and about – Wales in recent years, Mr Vogel is all the more remarkable for the author’s own amazing story. Following a bout of alcoholism which nearly killed him, Lloyd decided to recuperate by walking around Wales. It was this epic walk which inspired Lloyd to write Mr Vogel, “an astonishing mixture of fantasy, philosophy and travel” (Jan Morris). The novel begins with the discovery, in the attic of a second-hand bookshop, of an account of a lame man’s mysterious quest – the so-called ‘Vogel Papers’; the account tells of an unnamed colonial outpost, a land which resembles Wales but which is somehow skewed. Our guide, a Welshman, becomes obsessed with the Vogel Papers: his investigations take him across three continents and around his homeland – from Anglesey to Pembrokeshire, from Bangor to the Black Mountains – in search of a strange man known only as Mr Vogel. Accompanied by his reprobate friends Paddy and Waldo, as well as a motley crowd of academics, osteopaths and famous writers (not to mention a piglet and a couple of teddybears), our narrator gradually nears the end of his search. Only then does it become clear that the real Mr Vogel was never very far away after all. Mr Vogel is a story of one man’s dream of freedom, love and friendship. Compelling and warm-hearted, it is at once a novel, an anthology and a memoir; above all it is a reflection on the importance of hope and a celebration of Wales’ culture, landscape and people. In the words of Iain Sinclair, “Stop what you’re doing and listen to this mongrel monologue!”
**LONGLISTED FOR THE GILLER PRIZE**

From Emma Hooper, critically acclaimed author of Etta and Otto and Russell and James, a People magazine “Pick of the Week,” comes a lyrical, charming, and mystical story of a family on the edge of extinction, and the different way each of them fights to keep hope, memory, and love alive.

The Connor family is one of the few that is still left in their idyllic fishing village, Big Running; after the fish mysteriously disappeared, most families had no choice but to relocate and find work elsewhere. Aidan and Martha Connor now spend alternate months of the year working at an energy site up north to support their children, Cora and Finn. But soon the family fears they’ll have to leave Big Running for good. And as the months go on, plagued by romantic temptations new and old, the emotional distance between the once blissful Aidan and Martha only widens.

Between his accordion lessons and reading up on Big Running’s local flora and fauna, eleven-year-old Finn Connor develops an obsession with solving the mystery of the missing fish. Aided by his reclusive music instructor Mrs. Callaghan, Finn thinks he may have discovered a way to find the fish, and in turn, save the only home he’s ever known. While Finn schemes, his sister Cora spends her days decorating the abandoned houses in Big Running with global flair—the baker’s home becomes Italy; the mailman’s, Britain. But it’s clear she’s desperate for a bigger life beyond the shores of her small town. As the streets of Big Running continue to empty Cora takes matters—and her family’s shared destinies—into her own hands.

In Our Homesick Songs, Emma Hooper paints a gorgeous portrait of the Connor family, brilliantly weaving together four different stories and two generations of Connors, full of wonder and hope. Told in Hooper’s signature ethereal style, each page of this incandescent novel glows with mythical, musical wonder.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST
 
“[Rachel] Joyce’s beguiling debut is [a] modest-seeming story of ‘ordinary’ English lives that enthralls and moves you as it unfolds.”—People (four stars)
 
Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning a letter arrives, addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl, from a woman he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. But before Harold mails off a quick reply, a chance encounter convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. In his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold Fry embarks on an urgent quest. Determined to walk six hundred miles to the hospice, Harold believes that as long as he walks, Queenie will live. A novel of charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise—and utterly irresistible—storyteller.
 
Praise for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

“[A] gorgeously poignant novel of hope and transformation.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“A cause for celebration . . . [Joyce] has a lovely sense of the possibilities of redemption. In this bravely unpretentious and unsentimental take, she’s cleared space where miracles are still possible.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
 
“The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is not just a book about lost love. It is about all the wonderful everyday things Harold discovers through the mere process of putting one foot in front of the other.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

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The story of pioneer Daniel Boone’s life, told in his voice—a tall tale like no other, startling, funny, poignant, romantic and brawling—set during the American Revolutionary War

Here is Daniel Boone as you’ve never seen him: debut novelist Alix Hawley presents Boone’s life, from his childhood in a Quaker colony, through two stints captured by Indians as he attempted to settle Kentucky, the death of a son at the hands of the same Indians and the rescue of a daughter. The prose rivals Hilary Mantel’s and Peter Carey’s, conveying that sense of being inside the head of a storied historical figure about which much nonsense is spoken while also feeling completely contemporary.

Boone was a fabulous hunter and explorer, and a “white Indian,” perhaps happiest when he found a place as the captive, adopted son of a chief who was trying to prevent the white settlement of Kentucky. Hawley takes us intimately into the life-and-death survival of people pushing away from security and into Indian lands, despite sense and treaties, just before and into the War of Independence.

The love story between Boone and his wife, Rebecca, is rich and tangled, but mostly it’s Boone who fascinates, pushing into places where he imagines he can create a new “clean” world, only to find death and trouble and complication. He is a fabulous character, unrivaled in North American literature, and a prime candidate for the tall tale. The storytelling is taut and expert, the descriptions rich and powerful, the prose full of feeling, but Boone is what drives this outstanding debut.

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