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The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting

“I really loved this book. The story was unusual and interesting, combining personal histories with social history and the descriptions of Norway and the Shetlands, the weather and the environment were very evocative. Felt like I learned something too about the geography of the Shetlands and Norway, the historical aspects and the value and master craftsman aspect of wood. I read it in big chunks as it was quite absorbing (although you do have to really concentrate so as not to miss a detail and lose the trail). Sometimes felt like a bit of a leap to make the conclusions he made in unravelling what had happened.  I liked the ambiguity at the end and  I liked the fact that his relationships were all a bit messy – life is like that. “

” I loved it. Thought it was a brilliant read. Very engaging and intriguing story. Brought home the absurdity of the war – the loss of so many lives for such a small land gain. Had to read it carefully as otherwise easy to miss things. Loved the description of Shetland and Norway. I wanted to know who he ended up with, so it was frustrating not to know.”

Intriguing really sums the book up. Backdrop of the war gave me a different perspective on timescales and the legacy of the war was brought home. I didn’t like the portrayal of women and so I didn’t believe in the relationships. Loved it for the first 60%, next 20% I was impatient to find out what happened – a bit long. All in all a good book though – I did enjoy it.”

“I was intrigued by it, but it didn’t hold me all the time. Interesting story but found some of the characters a bit irritating and didn’t like the back and forth with the relationships. I have mixed feelings, but its difficult to  put my finger on why. Certainly  a different book with a lot of twists and turns which I liked. Felt it was very long.”

“Thought the storyline was lovely and very interesting, and the factual content was also really interesting. Didn’t guess where the wood would be found so that was good. Male characters very well written, female characters less so – found it hard to believe in the relationship with Gwen.  Felt like there might have been another story with Hanne and I felt very sad for Agnes. I enjoyed it and liked it as a book. Don’t know whether the fact it is in translation affects things. It felt about three chapters too long. I enjoyed it but there were some drawbacks.”

“Found it too long – I struggled to get in to it. Had to really concentrate. Quite enjoyed the twists and turns. Descriptions were beautifully written and I really enjoyed the historical aspects. Read it in small bursts and perhaps it would have been better read in larger chunks. Glad I read it.”

 “Struggled to get in to it and I think it’s becasue I read too fast. Had to slow down. I hadn’t appreciated the geography of Norway and the Shetlands. Thought Agnes the hairdresser was very much of her time – waiting for her man during the war. The other female characters were less sympathetic and believable. On the whole, really enjoyable and I would recommend it.”

Range: 6 – 8.5

Overall score: 7.1

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