It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for One Last Time by Helga Flatland today. Thanks to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to join. I have an extract to share with you to whet your appetite for this novel but first, here is what One Last Time is all about.
Author : Helga Flatland
Title : One Last Time
Pages : 276
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : June 24, 2021
| 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.
| EXTRACT |
Mia calls me back after we’ve finished our tacos, after I’ve sung Viljar’s obligatory lullabies. Aslak and I are watching a film, each sitting on our own sofa. It’s so long since I last objected to spending our weekends in front of the television. At the very beginning of our relationship, more or less without thinking I tried to pressure Aslak into following the same routines that Jens and I had followed when we had been together; I can’t recall us spending a single evening watching television in all the years we spent together, I only recall conversations, sex, sorrow, arguments and reconciliation, all played out in an all-consuming vicious circle. We must have had more settled days, but I remember us as if in constant motion. Aslak’s sense of calm and stillness forces different shapes to emerge, different patterns, another life altogether. And had Jens not moved back to Oslo a year ago and invaded my life, invaded Mia’s, I wouldn’t be spending yet another evening impatiently comparing him to Aslak.
‘Hi, love,’ I say as I answer the phone, keeping my tone bright and breezy.
‘Hi, you called me?’ Mia says.
‘Yes, it’d just be nice to know if we should include you in our plans for dinner or not,’ I reply.
I sit there on the sofa, pulling at a loose thread along the seam of one of the cushions, where Aslak’s work trousers have chafed against the fabric every day after work without fail. He pauses the film.
‘I know, but if you don’t hear from me, then surely you realise I’m not coming,’ she says, and I try to listen out for Jens in the background, sounds, conversations, something to indicate what they’re up to, I hope they’re watching TV.
‘It’d be nice to hear either way,’ I say. ‘I hardly see you these days.’ This is close to crossing a line I promised myself I’d never cross with my children; I promised myself I’d never make them feel guilty, never leave them with the feeling that they owe me anything.
‘You saw me two days ago, Mum,’ Mia says, sounding more resigned than plagued by a guilty conscience.
‘But will you be staying there all weekend?’ I ask.
‘I don’t know, Dad and Zadie might be going out somewhere tomorrow night, so I think I’ll come back home if they do,’ she says, and the fact that she still refers to Aslak and me as home trumps both the fact that she’s started calling Jens ‘Dad’ and the desire to ask where he and Zadie might be going.
‘That’ll be nice. We’ll see you tomorrow, then,’ I reply, and out of the corner of my eye I see Aslak straightening up.
‘Sure, maybe. Grandma rang me a while ago, by the way, but I didn’t get to my phone in time, and now she’s not picking up when I try to call her back.’
‘She’s called us too, but it’s nothing urgent, Dad says it was just something or other about the hens,’ I tell her.
Aslak shuffles around on the sofa. There’s a brief pause.
‘OK, so, I’ll see you tomorrow or Sunday, then,’ Mia says. ‘Bye.’
‘OK, bye then,’ I reply.
Aslak looks at me as I hang up. ‘I’m sure she’ll be back tomorrow,’ I tell him, trying to smile, in that moment remembering Mia as a baby, lying on Aslak’s chest, the way he would gently blow on her head to help settle her.
There’s something so incredibly engaging about Helga’s writing, don’t you think? This little extract completely drew me in. If you’d like to find out more, One Last Time is available to buy in ebook format and will be published in paperback on June 24th.
| 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.