The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is a beautifully designed book which captured my attention almost as soon as I saw the cover. Even so, there was one word in particular which really sealed my gravitation towards this book, a word which I think most people would be aware of today; The Somme. For me, as I am sure is the case for most others, The Somme is a place that is now forever intertwined with the history of the First World War, with it being the largest battle of this war on the Western Front. I am fascinated with the history of both of our World War’s and I am always on the look out for books with deal with this period in some way or another. As soon as I saw this book, I needed it, and I was beyond lucky to receive a copy for review from the team over at MacLehose Press.
The book was written by Lars Mytting and translated from the Norwegian by Paul Russell Garrett. In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure how to easily sum up this book; there are a lot of themes and ideas within it, and it is hard to give a description without edging too close upon what the plot itself hinges upon. To give an adapted summary of the blurb, the novel follows Edvard, a young man who has grown up in a rural environment in Norway with his grandfather, Sverre. The death of Edvard’s parents when he was just three has always been somewhat of a mystery, with the details of the actual event being concealed. He knows however, that his grandfather’s brother, the master craftsman Einar, is somehow involved in this mystery. When a beautifully crafted coffin arrives for his grandfather long before his actual death, Edvard begins to wonder if Einar is actually still alive. Fuelled by what he does not understand, and the secrets of his families past, Edvard travels to the Shetland Islands and the battlefields of France, hoping to find the truth about the past and as well as discovering the meaning of his inheritance.