Thursday, 10 June 2021

Books Read: One Last Time by Helga Flatland

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.

Book Links: Kindle or Paperback

I'd like to thank Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and Orenda Books for my digital copy of One Last Time to review.

One Last Time is a multi-generational story featuring three strong women, Anne, Sigrid and Mia, that explores the fractured relationships and dynamics between them. The story is told predominantly from Anne and Sigrid's perspectives although Mia does feature prominently in the background. 

The story opens with Anne contacting her family following a recent cancer diagnosis. Anne is the matriarch of the family who hasn't had the easiest of life, she had to take over the running of the farm and bringing her children up singlehandedly after her husband Gustav suffered a series of strokes at a young age that left him wheelchair bound. She cared for him at home until she was physically no longer able to but she still is a constant visitor to him in his care home even though he no longer recognises her or knows who she is. The author has depicted so beautifully how hard and painful it was for Anne with the constant reminder of what they had lost.  

Sigrid, Anne's daughter, is a doctor living in Oslo. She has made a good life for herself but she has quite a frosty relationship with her mother who she feels wasn't always there for her when she was younger. But when the news comes Sigrid returns home to help and support her mother, whether that help is wanted or not! The third main character is Mia, Sigrid's daughter, who is trying to find her own path in the world. She has never known her biological father as he left when her mother was pregnant but now he is back and wants to get to know her which is causing tension with her mother.  

I have to confess I really struggled to connect with Sigrid at times. She seemed cold and aloof but I actually think this was her armour, her way of protecting herself from the conflict of emotions she was feeling and protecting herself from potential heartbreak, both from her mother's illness but also the new relationship forming between Mia and her father. 

None of the mother/daughter pairings have the easiest of relationships but when the time comes they are always there for one another. It was also interesting to see the parallels running between each relationship even though they don't recognise it themselves. 

Credit is also due to the translator Rosie Hedger as this never felt like a book that had been written in any other language but English, the dialogue flowed so naturally. Overall I found One Last Time to be a powerful and moving read that had me captivated from the first chapter. 

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