editor's choice


Elegant. Beautiful. Moving. One Last Time.

Helga Flatland’s books are a joy, her writing quiet, her observations sharp, her language simple but carefully chosen. One Last Time, her latest, is a fine example of this and, like her debut, it focuses on family.

Here, Flatland’s gaze hones in on the relationship between mothers and daughters, as exposed in three generations of women, Anne, coming to the end of her life, grown-up daughter Sigrid and granddaughter Mia, on the cusp of adulthood. It’s a masterful exploration of the minutiae of life, of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, of the complexity of the human condition.

Anne’s relationship with Sigrid is fractured, fraught with resentments, perceived slights and secrets, and informed by their individual interpretations of events from the past. Sigrid’s view of her mother, in turn, informs how she relates to daughter Mia. A family holiday to France and Anne’s approaching death bring matters to ahead.

Flatland’s elegant use of language and insightful commentary lifts this book from being what could easily be a depressing exposé of family relationships and death into something that’s warm, moving and funny.

While at times challenging to read, particularly if one’s experienced terminal illness or the loss of a mother, this is undoubtedly a beautiful book, perhaps even better than A Modern Family, and possibly one of the best pieces of fiction we’ve read this year.

One Last Time | Helga Flatland | Orenda | June 2021 | £8.99 | paperback

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Acknowledgements: All text quotes from the book © 2020 by Helga Flatland/English translation © 2021 Rosie Hedger. This review is published as part of the publisher virtual book tour. Many thanks to lovely Anne Cater for arranging it and to the publisher for sending a. review copy and the above jacket image. All views expressed are our own. All rights reserved. Please check out the other great reviewers on the tour.

See also:By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Remembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’; ‘We should all be feminists’; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

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