Today Mandie shares her thoughts on One Last Time, the latest novel by Helga Flatland. I really loved the book, an emotional and character driven story of family. If you’d like to read my thoughts you can find them here. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
Anne’s diagnosis of terminal cancer shines a spotlight onto fractured relationships with her daughter and granddaughter, with surprising, heartwarming results. A moving, warmly funny novel by the Norwegian Anne Tyler.
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.
Helga Flatland has done it again. One Last Time is a book that will draw you into the lives of its characters as they deal with family relationships and illness in a story that will resonate with anyone who reads it.
Anne and Sigrid are mother and daughter who have not always had the best of relationships and it is tested further when Anne is diagnosed with cancer. She has always been very independent and sees no reason for this to change just because she is ill. Sigrid is unsure of how she should be feeling or even what she should be doing. As a GP she is fully aware of what her mother is likely to go through, but it doesn’t make it any easier. She is also struggling with her relationship with her own daughter Mia. As she gets older and is forging a relationship with her father, Sigrid finds she is often resentful on how close they are becoming especially after he abandoned them shortly after Mia’s birth.
As the story flits between Anne and Sigrid their internal conversations give a real insight into this family dynamic and does at times have you wishing they would just have one big row over it all, clear the air so that they can get on with what truly matters. The fact that they can’t/won’t is what makes this both heart wrenching and compelling at the same time. You have to keep reading as you want to know how they are coping, and ultimately if they will ever be at peace.
There is just something about the way that Helga writes that takes what would on the surface seem so everyday normal and makes it something extraordinary. It is so much more than a book about how illness affects not just the sufferer and their family, but it takes you to the heart of the family itself. You can feel the resentments that are festering below the surface of each of the characters as they try to come to terms with how much their lives are changing. One Last Time is a book that could be about any one of us and it is this that makes it special and shows the true talents of Helga Flatland’s writing.
About the Author
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, 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.
About the Author
Rosie Hedger was born in Scotland and completed her MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh, where she graduated with a distinction in Norwegian. Rosie spent a year at the University of Oslo, taking courses in Norwegian language and literature and researching for her dissertation on contemporary Norwegian fiction. Since completing her studies, Rosie has also lived in Sweden and Denmark, and is now based in the UK.
Books by Helga Flatland