I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Last Boat Home by Dea Brovig
Published by Hutchinson on March 13, 2014
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Explosive, dark and tender, The Last Boat Home is a devastating novel about sacrifice, survival and a mother’s love. If you loved The Light Between Oceans or The Snow Child, this is for you.
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.
The pace of The Last Boat Home is slow, matching the sluggishness of life on the coast of snowy Norway and the harsh reality that occurs due to the mood swings of an alcoholic father. This slow pace means that the ending quietly builds up unexpectedly. And allows the reader to will feel the same emotions as Else – shock and outrage over what occurs.
The reader’s interest is kept throughout the book, by the puzzlement of who is Marianne’s father. Is it Lars? Her boyfriend in the 70’s. Or a member of the travelling circus who comes to town? Perhaps the strongman? Or an unknown?
While the abuse and harshness of Else’s life are the main themes of the book, the other key theme is secrets – Else and her mother keep secret the abuse they suffer from Else’s alcoholic father, Else keeps secret her relationship with Lars, and there is the huge secret of who Marianne’s father is.
This is an interesting and thought-provoking book. And is not something that a reader should pick up expecting escapism or the thrill of young love. Yet despite this, The Last Boat Home will absorb your interest and keep you guessing to the end.