Friday 25 June 2021

One Last Time by Helga Flatland BLOG TOUR @HelgaFlatland Trans @rosie_hedger @OrendaBooks #JubilantJune #OneLastTime


Anne's life is rushing to an unexpected and untimely end. But her diagnosis of terminal cancer isn't just a shock for her and for her daughter Sigrid and granddaughter Mia it shines a spotlight onto their fractured and uncomfortable relationships.

On a spur-of-the moment trip to France the three generations of women reveal harboured secrets, long-held frustrations and suppressed desires, and learn humbling and heart-warming lessons about how life should be lived when death is so close.

With all of Helga Flatland's trademark humour, razor-sharp wit and deep empathy, One Last Time examines the great dramas that can be found in ordinary lives, asks the questions that matter to us all and ultimately celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, in an exquisite, enchantingly beautiful novel that urges us to treasure and rethink ... everything.

One Last Time by Helga Flatland was published by Orenda Books on 24 June 2021 in paperback and is translated from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour. 

One Last Time is the second of Helga Flatland's novels that I have read. I reviewed the first, A Modern Family, back in April 2019. That is a book that I constantly recommend to people. I am a huge fan of Maggie O Farrell, and for me, Flatland is equally as good. Her writing is beautiful, her stories are woven together magically and her characters are intricately and carefully created, flaws and all. 

The story is perfectly translated by Rosie Hedger, who has such a talent, bringing the author's words to the English speaking community.

Flatland's greatest strength is her astounding perception about family and relationships. Once more, she has taken a fairly ordinary family, made up of characters who could be you, or your neighbours and exposed their innermost thoughts with such sensitivity. Again, as in her previous novel, I felt as though I was an imposter, sitting within a family, listening to things that outsiders shouldn't hear. It's a magical experience.

Anne lives alone on a farm in Norway. Her husband is looked after in a care home. He has been very ill for many years, struck down by stroke after stroke, until finally was no longer able to care for him. Anne raised their children more or less single handedly, whilst caring for their father at the same time. 

Anne has been diagnosed with cancer of the colon and must now tell her children.  Daughter Sigrid lives in Oslo with her husband Aslek and their small son.  Her daughter Mia, on the verge of adulthood lives with them but has recently begun a relationship with her natural father. Sigrid and her husband Aslek struggle to come to terms with this. Aslek has been there for Mia since she was a baby. 

The novel is narrated via the voices of Anne and Sigrid, and gives such an insight into their relationship, with their different viewpoints, their own struggles, how they  blame and some guilt. Sigrid has an inner anger that simmers constantly, never quite able to show affection directly to her mother, yet the reader knows that it is there. Anne is stubborn and her initial feeling about her diagnosis is how horribly unfair it is. She has spent her life as a carer, and is now destined to die before her time, probably in pain. 

I cannot talk more about the plot and how the relationships are gently unfolded, allowing the reader to learn about the most private of their thoughts and their deeds. This is not my story to tell, and the author is so very skilled with words, that for me to try to explain all of the layers would be an injustice. 

This is a novel about how our past can affect our present, and how long held beliefs and grievances can impact on how we see the world and how we treat others. It is complex and hauntingly beautiful and I highly recommend it. 

Helga Flatland is already one of Norway s most awarded and widely read authors. 

Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel 
Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas First Book Prize. 
She has written four novels and a children's book and has won several other literary awards. 
Her fifth novel, A Modern Family (her first English translation), was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. 
The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies. 

Rosie Hedger was born in Scotland and completed her MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies at the
University of Edinburgh. 

She has lived and worked in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and now lives in York where she works as a freelance translator. 

Rosie was a candidate in the British Center for Literary Translation s mentoring scheme for Norwegian in 2012, mentored by Don Bartlett.

Visit her website:  

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