Not knowing anything about it, I took a chance on this short novel. At first I was impressed and by the end I was astounded.
In an isolated Norwegian fjord town a circus comes to visit, mesmerising the small God-fearing community. It sets the backdrop for Else’s crumbling relationships with her secret boyfriend, her drunkard father and her neglected mother.
First Impressions: I loved the author’s introductory note about the former circus performer she once met. I wondered how this would weave its way into the narrative as it is far from being an entertaining circus romp.
Highlights: Dea Brovig created a wonderfully insular small town setting and it was easy to imagine I was walking the streets and forest paths with Else. Brovig has a lovely writing style. Mystery was created with regards to how Else’s daughter and granddaughter fit into the puzzle. As much as I wanted to discover all the detail I was pleased to see that not everything was revealed. The crisis point in the novel is dramatic and unpredictable; it happens in a whirlwind and the surprise is almost a delayed shock to the reader.
If I was an editor: I don’t know what I would suggest! It is a perfectly formed novel but to nitpick the first half is slower than the second.
Overall: I am surprised that the publication of this novel has not had more coverage. For instance, I cannot find any other reviews on WordPress. It is advertised as being for those who enjoyed The Light Between Oceans and The Snow Child. I can see the similarities between these three novels but feel that The Last Boat Home is the most realistic and tender of the three.
The Last Boat Home: 5 stars
Thank you to Random House (Cornerstone) for a copy of the ARC to review.