Book review: The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Myttting

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme was translated from the original Norwegian by Paul Russell Garrett

Book cover of The Sixteen Trees of the Somme

Edvard grows up on a remote mountain farmstead in Norway with his taciturn grandfather, Sverre. The death of his parents, when he was three years old, has always been shrouded in mystery – he has never been told how or where it took place and has only a distant memory of his mother.

And the story of his grandfather’s late brother, Einar, is somehow bound up with this mystery. A coffin is delivered long before his grandfather’s death – a meticulous, art-deco piece made of flame birch, with the hallmark of a master craftsman. Perhaps Einar is not dead after all.

Edvard’s desperate quest to unlock the  tragic secrets of two families takes him on a long journey, following a trail of clues from Norway to the Shetlands and to the battlefields of France. Navigation divided wartime allegiances and the love of two women, he is ultimately led to the discovery of a very unusual inheritance.

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is a beautifully intricate, moving, century-spanning tale about a fascination with wood, about love, and about finding out who you really are. It is a tale brilliantly and delicately told with many a twist to keep you hungry to find out the secret.

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme was awarded the Norwegian National Booksellers’ Award and has been bought for film.