On the wind-swept southern coast of Norway, sixteen-year-old Else is out on the icy sea, dragging her oars through the waves while, above her, storm clouds are gathering. Surrounded by mountains, snow and white-capped water, she looks across the fjord and dreams of another life, of escape and faraway lands.
Back on shore, her father sits alone in his boathouse with a jar of homebrew. In the Best Room, her mother covers her bruises and seeks solace in prayer. Each tries to hide the truth from this isolated, God-fearing community they call home.
Until one night changes everything.
More than thirty years later, the return of an old friend forces Else to relive the events that marked the end of her childhood.
Set in the mid 1970s and 2009, The Last Boat Home takes us on a journey with Else, who lives with her daughter Marianne and her granddaughter Liv, as she relives memories from her past that have been triggered by the reappearance of her old boyfriend Lars with his young family.
Through glimpses into her past we see that life was bleak for Else when she was younger, living with her mother and father, as the family put on appearances for the rest of the town although it's clear that life is not what it seems behind closed doors. It's also obvious that these memories are leading up to an event that had a major impact on the life of Else and her relationship with Lars...
I will admit that this was quite bleak reading at times, and the pace is fairly slow, but despite this I still found myself wanting to carry on reading to discover the truth as to what exactly happened on the fateful day that had such a major impact on Else's life.
The Last Boat Home is a story full of secrets and harsh reality so if you're after a nice, easygoing read then this book is definitely not for you.
I'd like to thank Rachel at Random House for sending me a copy of this book to review.