In 1971, a French-Norwegian couple dies when they step on an unexploded grenade at the old battlefields of the Somme. Their three-year old son Edvard has disappeared, and is found alone four days later in a town many miles away. The tragedy remains unsolved, and the sensitive, restless boy grows up with his grandparents at a desolate farm in Norway.
At age 23, Edvard discovers that an unknown person delivered a coffin to the funeral agency many years ago, intended for his grandfather. The coffin is a splendid piece of craftsmanship, made of beautiful flame birch. Edvard believes it to be made by his grand uncle, a master carpenter who bitterly left the family decades ago and worked in France during the art deco era of the 1930s, then disappeared. Strangely, he seems to be connected with the tragic incident in 1971.
Edvard is haunted by guilt, never having felt true grief for his parent’s death. He sets off to a journey for the truth and to revive his sorrow, and the quest brings him to places as diverse as the Shetland Isles, Edinburgh and back to the old battlefields where he once disappeared.
THE SIXTEEN TREES OF THE SOMME is a poetic mystery, a tale of desperate searches, of loss and love, visiting three generations and European historical events, all seen through the clever eye of a rural boy with an intense emotional register, especially for trees and nature, a register that will grow at a painfully quick pace as he unravels the past.
"What a remarkable book. I adored it . . . It's one of those books I've rushed home to get back to and read late into the night. I felt embedded in Edvard's world and those of his parents and grandparents. I have an urge to visit Norway and go back to the Shetlands just to honour this book"
"Probably this year's most riveting novel, a widescreen narrative that must be considered his definitive breakthrough as a writer . . . This book is so blessedly well written that even the most elaborate twists become logical and acceptable milestones in an intricate story."
"A tragic and astonishing narrative about the love of wood, about family secrets, and finding your own self. About grief, loss and love . . . If "Norwegian Wood" had not made Lars Mytting a celebrity, this novel will."