This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Jennifer Joyce
Sixteen-year-old Else and her family live a simple life in a God-fearing town in Norway during the 1970s. Else helps out at home and goes to school and church, outwardly following the rules set by her strict father and the community’s stern pastor. Whenever she can, Else meets up with the other teenagers of the town, including her secret boyfriend, Lars.
Fast-forward to the late 2000s and Else is helping to bring up her eleven-year-old granddaughter with her daughter Marianne. Lars has just returned to the town after a considerable absence, bringing with him his wife and children. Else starts to think about her past; her parents, sneaking off to meet up with Lars and the night the circus came to town and everything changed.
It took me a while to really get into The Last Boat Home. I found it quite interesting throughout, but it wasn’t until about a third into the book that my interest was fully piqued and I became gripped by Else’s story. Else lives quite a sheltered life for a sixteen-year-old and has to sneak around to meet up with her boyfriend, Lars, as her father is quite an intimidating and harsh character. He is a strict and proud man who doesn’t want his family to be seen as going against their faith, despite his own obvious flaws. I didn’t like Johann at all as he had no redeeming qualities whatsoever and I could practically smell the stench of him wafting from the pages! Another unappealing character for me was Pastor Seip who seemed to lurk around corners, waiting to catch the community doing something disagreeable so he could preach at them.I really liked Else as a main character as although she isn’t particularly feisty, she is incredibly strong and I felt for her as the events of her past unfolded. It was quite a tough, emotional read towards the end of the book, as the truth of what happened back when Else was younger is revealed. As a reader, we know that something happened to change Else, which created an air of anticipation as we delve further into her story. The book switches between the 1970s and 2000s, which created even more intrigue and eventually hooked me completely as I devoured the pages to find out what had actually happened. I enjoyed the book very much, finding it to be a well-written and touching read, jam-packed with intrigue.