8 September 2015

Etta and Otto and Russell and James - Extract & Giveaway!



Today is a first for my little blog, as I'm taking part in my first ever book blog tour! I was so excited to have been contacted, and I'm so pleased to be playing host to Etta and Otto and Russell and James, the debut novel from writer and musician Emma Hooper.

So, what is the book about?

Synopsis:
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. Meanwhile her husband Otto waits patiently at home, left only with his memories. 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.


To celebrate the book's publication, the lovely people at Penguin have given me the opportunity to publish the opening chapter here on my blog for you to enjoy. Here it is!

Otto,
the letter began, in blue ink.
I’ve gone. I’ve never seen the water, so I’ve gone there. Don’t worry, I’ve left you the truck. I can walk. I will try to remember to come back.
Yours (always), Etta.
 
Underneath the letter she had left a pile of recipe cards. All the things she had always made. Also in blue ink. So he would know what and how to eat while she was away. Otto sat down at the table and arranged them so no two were overlapping. Columns and rows. He thought about putting on his coat and shoes and going out to try and find her, maybe asking neighbours if they had seen which way she went, but he didn’t. He just sat at the table with the letter and the cards. His hands trembled. He laid one on top of the other to calm them.

After a while Otto stood and went to get their globe. It had a light in the middle, on the inside, that shone through the latitude and longitude lines. He turned it on and turned off the regular kitchen lights. He put it on the far side of the table, away from the letter and cards, and traced a path with his finger. Halifax. If she went east, Etta would have 3,232 kilometres to cross. If west, to Vancouver, 1,201 kilometres. But she would go east, Otto knew. He could feel the tightness in the skin across his chest pulling that way. He noticed his rifle was missing from the front closet. It would still be an hour or so until the sun rose.

Growing up, Otto had fourteen brothers and sisters. Fifteen altogether, including him. This was when the flu came and wouldn’t go, and the soil was even drier than usual, and the banks had all turned inside out and all the farmers’ wives were losing more children than they were keeping. So families were trying and trying, for every five pregnancies, three babies, and for every three babies, one child. Most of the farmers’ wives were pregnant most of the time. The silhouette of a beautiful woman, then, was a silhouette rounded with potential. Otto’s mother was no different. Beautiful. Always round.

Still, the other farmers and their wives were wary of her. She was cursed, or blessed; supernatural, they said to one another across mailboxes. Because Otto’s mother, Grace, lost none of her children. Not one. Every robust pregnancy running smoothly into a ruddy infant and every infant to a barrel-eared child, lined up between siblings in grey and off-grey nightclothes, some holding babies, some holding hands, leaning into the door to their parents’ room, listening fixedly to the moaning from within.

Would you like to read Etta and Otto and Russell and James? Penguin have very kindly given me a copy to give away to one of you! If you'd like to have a go, all you have to do is enter below. Good luck, and happy reading!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Big thanks to Catherine at Penguin General for getting in touch and for sending me a copy of the book!
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