Book Review- The Sixteen Trees of the Somme

Tuesday, 29 August 2017
Title: The Sixteen Trees of the Somme
Author: Lars Mytting
Published: 10th August 2017
Pages: 408
Genre: Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

By Norway's bestselling novelist and the author of NORWEGIAN WOOD, a family story of epic scale. 
"An intricate story about war, family, secrets and, yes, wood ... An engaging, satisfying read" The TimesEdvard grows up on a remote mountain farmstead in Norway with his taciturn grandfather, Sverre. The death of his parents, when he was three years old, has always been shrouded in mystery - he has never been told how or where it took place and has only a distant memory of his mother.
But he knows that the fate of his grandfather's brother, Einar, is somehow bound up with this mystery. One day a coffin is delivered for his grandfather long before his death - a meticulous, beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Perhaps Einar is not dead after all.
Edvard's desperate quest to unlock the family's tragic secrets takes him on a long journey - from Norway to the Shetlands, and to the battlefields of France - to the discovery of a very unusual inheritance. The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is about the love of wood and finding your own self, a beautifully intricate and moving tale that spans an entire century. -Goodreads
I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley and Quercus Books in return for an honest review.
This novel is translated from Norwegian by an extremely talented translator called Paul Russell Garrett, and he deserves serious credit for the beautiful language this novel contains. The writing is descriptive and powerful and emotive, and in terms of the beauty and skill of writing this novel is stunning. 
The setting of this novel moves from a farm in Norway to an island off Shetland in Scotland, and a forest in France near the Somme. The author manages to make these three different places feel unique and feel so real and so full of history and depth. This novel is a wonderful example of the craft of writing.
The story itself is a fascinating one, Sverre (the main character) tries to find out about his family history, and what really caused his parents' deaths when he was 4. The two strands are interwoven very well, and we slowly get to see the full story of Sverre as he discovers it.
The historical aspects are also excellent, it actually feels like I have learnt a lot from this novel, both about the Somme in World War I, and other elements too.
The author of this novel, Mytting, also wrote the bestselling book Norwegian Wood, which is a non-fiction book about wood basically. This love and interest of wood is inherently obvious in this novel too. You can't help but get swept up in his love of trees and wood itself, and the beautiful images his words create. It was also fascinating to read about the symbolism of the particular trees in the title.
Overall this was a beautiful novel, with wonderfully poetic prose, and a fascinating premise. I would highly recommend this novel to all!! 

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