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Etta and Otto and Russell and James - January (2015) book club

(132 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 15-Dec-14 10:44:28

Before we start on the mulled wine get bogged down in festive preparations, we thought we'd get the thread up and running for those who won a copy of Etta to chat about the book and add their thoughts and questions.

You can read more about the book/author here

nonnanna Thu 18-Dec-14 06:58:04

Thank you Gransnet for a great read. They say never judge a book by it's cover - but an exception should be made for this one. A beautiful and slightly mystical cover and I am going to say the same of the writing. I galloped through the first half, intrigued and captivated by the story then...whoa! No spoilers here - but the rest of it certainly makes you think. Emma Hooper has such an imagination to bring all of this together. Her descriptions of the battles fought during the lifetimes of the characters are so visual and insightful. Gransnetters, have you taken notice of the endpapers, the linings inside the cover? They are like a 'Can you spot...?' game. My questions for Emma ...why papier mache animals and do you have a guinea pig?

FloNightingale Thu 18-Dec-14 17:48:07

Sounds a good read nonnanna can I get it on Kindle I wonder sounds like just the job to chill with over Christmas. Have a full house and I mean full so need something to de stress with {grin}

sallyc06 Fri 19-Dec-14 07:57:40

Wow! What a great read, I couldn't put it down, so entertaining, kept me amused for hours.

gardener Fri 19-Dec-14 15:17:07

Thank you so much for this book ! And What a fabulous cover.
I'm already half way through the book and really absorbed in the story and the characters. I will call in again later with a question.

eGJ Fri 19-Dec-14 17:08:17

Book arrived today and when I can find a minute between wrapping presents and putting up cards I'll read it and post a comment/question smile

Grannybug Fri 19-Dec-14 17:24:19

Thank you for my copy of Etta and Otto and Russell and James. Have started to reading and enjoying it so far. Will post my question when I've finished it. Agree with others that it is a lovely cover.

EastEndGranny Sat 20-Dec-14 09:13:05

I was very pleased to receive a copy ( a very beautiful hard back copy)as the resume was intriguing. I am a few chapters in and am really enjoying the detail of Otto's early life. Many thanks.

gillogg Sat 20-Dec-14 18:22:31

I am about halfway through this enjoyable book .I wouldn't normally have chosen this genre as I usually go for crime stuff but am loving the characters and the unusual way of writing.It took me a while to get used to the lack of speech marks, but once I worked that out, I began to understand it. Will try and finish this review later when we' ve finished with Christmas festivities!

gma Sun 21-Dec-14 16:23:00

Couldn't resist starting Etta and Otto and Russell and James, the cover is so inviting. Really enjoying this lovely book. Looks like I will be wrapping Christmas presents all day tomorrow!!!!. I have pictures of all the characters in my head, cant put it down now!!!
Happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas Gransnetters one and all tchsmile

coffecup Tue 23-Dec-14 08:57:42

received my copy and once i started reading i found i had to read on
i must admit at first the coming and going in time was a little confusing
but once i got to grips with the characters i found it better, what i
would have liked in the front of the book would have been a map of canada
as i think that would have helped with the distances and direction.

On the whole a well written book and quite thought provoking.

Gagagran Tue 23-Dec-14 09:03:00

I am struggling with this book and find the format quite disjointed. I have to consciously think what year we are in each time it changes, which I think makes for uncomfortable reading.

I do like the characters and the description of Canadian life but it is not a book I would re-read or even pass on to my book group friends. Sorry!

The question I would pose is:

Why choose this disjointed format for an interesting story?

numberplease Tue 23-Dec-14 16:10:06

I enjoyed the book, but must confess to getting a little confused towards the end.

alex57currie Tue 23-Dec-14 21:46:35

I found it enchanting, even although I was confused at times. I have this habit of slipping into protagonist mode. This time I did so with a soft Canadian burr. I even thought of my longtime hubby as Otto, and he looked at me strangely. Yes I am an odd ball. Have spent the whole of my life swimming upstream. So what happens next? Is there a time in the not to distant future when our opinion is asked?

shysal Wed 24-Dec-14 10:52:48

I finished this book in the bath at 5 a.m. today. I enjoyed it, and found it was easy to decide to read 'just one more page' many times before doing something more important! However I found the ending rather unsatisfactory, which did not please me, as I was left a bit up in the air! Were you in a hurry to reach a deadline for publication, therefore skimping on the final pages?

shysal Wed 24-Dec-14 10:56:09

I note that this was your debut novel. Do you plan to write another in the near furure?

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 24-Dec-14 11:41:10


I found it enchanting, even although I was confused at times. I have this habit of slipping into protagonist mode. This time I did so with a soft Canadian burr. I even thought of my longtime hubby as Otto, and he looked at me strangely. Yes I am an odd ball. Have spent the whole of my life swimming upstream. So what happens next? Is there a time in the not to distant future when our opinion is asked?

Hi Alex

Yes do leave your comments and questions here on the thread and we will be sending them over to Emma towards the end of January

alex57currie Wed 24-Dec-14 15:08:26

CariGransnet Thank you. I'll leave it for a couple of weeks, and let the theme roll around a bit.

matson Wed 24-Dec-14 15:29:26

I have just finished this book and sadly the inside of the book is not as interesting as the outside, I found it very confusing, and I think I have totally missed the "gist " if there was one ! May need to re read it again.

Milly Fri 26-Dec-14 23:49:42

Thank you Gransnet for starting 2015 with a free book. At first I thought I wasn't going to like it, the way it is written, which made me feel slightly depressed, and also the jumping back and forth in time, but I couldn't look a free gift horse in the mouth and so I persevered and now I am half way through and getting into it and enjoying it.

One of thing things I like is her age, its so nice to read of women near my age not young people all the time, but like some of the others I also felt it was a female Canadian version of Harold Fry. I hope there isn't a sting in the tale, some nasty twist at the end.

Greenfingers3 Sat 27-Dec-14 20:41:48

Thank you for the book, I enjoyed reading it, although at times I found it a bit hard to follow with the changing between the present and past, by the end I felt that the story all came together, and it was a fascinating read. You can see my review here

joannapiano Sat 27-Dec-14 21:15:50

An interesting read, and I enjoyed learning about Canada during the War.
However, unlike Greenfingers, I didn't feel the story came together at the end. What happened to them?
I felt so sorry when James got his foot trapped-and what happened to him ? And was he real? (I realise he didn't really converse with Etta, that bit I understood.)

carol810 Sun 28-Dec-14 12:27:02

I have finished my copy of the book and put a review on Goodreads as Carol Peace. I took quite a while to 'get' the story but it was worth the persistence untill the different voices gelled together.
Thank you Gransnet and Pengiun for the read.

hollystone Mon 29-Dec-14 10:49:17

I have read this book, and thank you Gransnet much appreciated.
I thought the cover of the book was beautiful, when I settled down to read could not stop staring at it.
The book itself was not really my style of reading. I found the jumping around, and some of the things dropped in were not followed through, and a little confusing.
Poor Russel, he did not have much of a life did he? Just existed in their life. I felt sad for him.
I would have liked to have heard more stories about the family, and the area where they lived.
When I got to the end I thought it would all come together? but I ended just as confused.

My questions are:

Was Etta supposed to have Alzheimers or Dementia?

Was the book suggesting that the roles had reversed with Etta & Otto?
The fact that Otto was at War, all of his fear & adventures, whilst she pottered Baked, danced...
Then her turn? she walked for her freedom & adventure? whilst he pottered and found a new hobby of the Papier mache?
Both waiting in a different era?

rocketstop Tue 30-Dec-14 09:19:09

Thank you for the book. I agree with other readers that it was quite like 'Harold Fry' in parts.
I really enjoyed reading it, I loved the characters and felt there was a lot of 'Meat on their bones'
I loved that 'James' the coyote had a dialogue, however when it got to the end, I felt cheated somehow as I could not grasp what the situation was.
I'm with' hollystone' here in that I thought it confusing as well. My brain was trying, REALLY trying to sort it out.Had Otto been killed in the war and he was a figment of Etta's dementia, or did Otto have dementia and he thought Etta was still alive but that she had gone on a long walk..but that theory doesn't add up either as other people throughout the story are recognising Etta and cheering her on.
Does Emma even know what happened, even though she wrote the story ?! Are we meant to be left wanting..or did we just not 'Get it'? I would like Emma to put us out of our misery and explain the ending!
All in all a good read right up to the end, and then a flatness as though my effort had been wasted !!

harrigran Tue 30-Dec-14 10:50:05

I finished the book this morning and have to say it made very difficult reading.
I am assuming that one or perhaps all of the characters have dementia and they are all existing in their own world with memories of the old days.
I found the story to be disjointed and had to keep referring back to find which era I was in at that point. I continued to read because I thought there might be a good conclusion or even an explanation but sadly the author seems to have lost the plot.
I have read a few debut novels, recently, and they seem to be the result of creative writing courses rather than life experience.
I don't think any of my friends or relatives would enjoy this book either, sorry.