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Review: Norwegian by Night

Norwegian by Night

Norwegian by Night
By Derek B. Miller
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), Hardcover, 9780547934877, May 2013, 304pp.

The Short of It:

True, this story is considered crime fiction but it’s wrapped in memory and heartache and has a great protagonist that you can’t help but root for.

The Rest of It:

Sheldon Horowitz, a former Marine sniper in the Korean War, now widowed at 82, agrees to leave New York to live with his granddaughter Rhea and her husband Lars, in Norway.

Norway is foreign to Sheldon in a lot of ways. He misses his old life in New York, his wife of many years, Mabel and the son he lost in the Vietnam War, Saul. But Sheldon’s biggest problem in Norway is the dementia that is slowly taking hold him. In his mind, the memories of his former life are crisp and so real that he loses track of what’s real and what’s not.

One day, alone in his apartment, he opens his door to a woman and child in distress and that begins his trek across the country.

When I pitched this book to my book club over a year ago, it was more of a crap shoot than anything because it’s not the kind of book we typically pitch.  At the time, we had not really read crime fiction for the club before and it’s been a really long time since we’ve read a book with an older protagonist. So, I took a chance and I’m glad I did.

It was a surprisingly good read. Full of heart and yes, a little bit of sadness but with it being crime fiction and all, it was also a page turner, which is good for this time of the year when you are wrapping up loose ends and just want kick back with a good book.

Sheldon Horowitz is a character that will stay with me for a very long time. He’s smart, has spunk, is loving and understanding when he needs to be but he’s also strong-willed and opinionated which makes for some colorful conversations. When his loved ones are put in peril, his body seems to know what to do even though he is 82 years old and not the man he used to be, at least not physically. I seriously adored him.

Have you read Norwegian by Night or heard of it?  I heard of it for the first time last year but it’s gotten quite a bit of publicity:

An ECONOMIST TOP FICTION TITLE OF THE YEAR
A FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A GUARDIAN BEST CRIME AND THRILLER OF THE YEAR
A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR

It will be interesting to hear what the club has to say about it. On the surface it feels like there is not enough to discuss but I suspect that there is since it touches on so many different topics (war, dementia, aging, Miller’s handling of past and present and his use of fantastical elements to tell the story).

It’s a great book to end the year with.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Sunday Matters: What Day Is It?

Sunday Matters

Christmas has come and gone. It went quickly didn’t it? How was your Christmas? Ours was probably the best Christmas we’ve had in a really long time. It was simple. No stress. No expectations really of how it should be.

We had a nice Christmas Eve dinner at my mother-in-law’s house and got to visit with family that we haven’t seen for awhile. Christmas day we had breakfast, opened gifts and then watched movies until it was time for dinner.

We went to a fave restaurant for Christmas dinner. This year, it was really crowded so maybe next year we’ll try a different place. After dinner, we saw The Force Awakens. No spoilers here but just go see it.

Right Now:

Our church is closed today for the holiday break so I am watching the service online, which is on demand all day long if you care to check it out. I’ve already had two cups of coffee and I am slowly, slowly getting ready for the day.

The Teen is going to a museum today with his friend.  Not sure what we’ll do. I feel tempted to venture out because we’ve been inside for a bit but will I? Probably not.

I am also working on my “one word” resolution for the year. I have a word but it’s not quite right. I’ve been doing some journaling and worksheets that another blogger shared with me to come up with my one word. I am getting closer but I am not there yet.

This Week:

The Hub is back to work on Monday but I am still off with the kids. Not sure what we are doing for New Year’s Eve. We are not the partying types but The Teen indicated that there is nothing for teens to do so we may end up with some of his friends over here.  I am thinking Chinese take-out and corny 80s movies. Sounds like a rip-roaring time to me.

Reading:

I am going to finish Norwegian by Night this week and call it the last book of the year.

Watching:

I watched nearly every Christmas movie that I wanted to watch. I am also really into old TV shows right now. Lots of Emergency! and CHiPs and Bob Newhart.

Making:

I am thinking of making spaghetti tonight. Maybe some meatballs to go with it.

Grateful for:

I woke to the news of the tornadoes in Texas so I am just so grateful for the roof over my head and I will be praying for all those affected by this recent wave of tornadoes and for all the lives lost.