I received a copy of this book from the publisher
About The Book
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 heartwarming 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 us to treasure and rethink … everything.
One Last Time is the second book by the Norwegian writer, Helga Flatland to be translated into English by Rosie Hedger. I loved her previous novel, A Modern Family and I was incredibly happy to see that she had a new book coming out. Flatland is such a fabulous writer who explores the intricacies and nuances of families in absolutely beautiful prose. In A Modern Family she wrote about the divorce of an older couple and its subsequent impact upon their grown up children and in One Last Time, a diagnosis of cancer sends ripples of emotional turmoil through an already fractured family.
Anne is in her early sixties and lives on a farm in Norway, her husband is in a care home after suffering a number of catastrophic strokes at a relatively young age leaving her to bring up their children, Marcus and Sigrid alone. When she is diagnosed with cancer it brings the fraught relationship she has with her daughter into sharp relief. Theirs has been a complex mother and daughter relationship and they are seemingly unable to communicate in any meaningful way leading to decades of misunderstandings and resentments.
Ostensibly, this isn’t really a book about cancer, it is about the small moments of life, of memories and of family history. The centre point of the novel is the exploration of the nature of the relationship between mothers and daughters, both between Anne and Sigrid, but also between Sigrid and her 19 year old daughter, Mia. This trio of women each bring different things to the book; they are complex, offering both light and shade to the narrative and representing the role of a woman at different points of life.
Mia, about to go to University and fostering a relationship with her estranged father is a woman on the cusp of adulthood but, living at home is still, to some degree treated as a child. Her relationship with Sigrid is at times strained but Sigrid’s own relationship with her mother has been fractious, casting a shadow over the way she parents. The relationship between Anne and Sigrid can be uncomfortable and difficult to read with both women wanting to be closer to one another but unable to bridge ever widening gap. Sigrid’s job as a GP, causes further distance with Sigrid retreating into the comfort of medicine and almost treating her mother as another patient. She is almost clinical with Anne, communicating with her at slight distance, unable to communicate her sadness and fear and the thought of losing her mother.
Told from both the viewpoint of Anne and Sigrid, the book delves into the past and uses memories of Sigrid’s childhood and her teenage years to show how her upbringing has shaped her life. It is beautifully and eloquently written with quiet moments which draw you straight into the heart of the family. Yes, there are times of sadness but also moments of beauty which absolutely took my breath away. Some books just draw you into an immersive story, and One Last Time is most definitely one of those.
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 (her first English translation), 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. One Last Time was published in Norway in 2020, where it topped the bestseller lists, and was shortlisted for the Norwegian Booksellers Award.
Where You Can Buy It
My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for a copy of the book and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for an invitation to join the Blog Tour.