War has the ability to steal the security of a happy home and a comfortable life and throw people into the deep end. Set during the Second World War, Lynette’s Journey takes us from Mechita in Argentina to Nottingham in England, where Lynette’s parents leave her and her sisters to survive in the house of Mrs. Nuttall, a music and dance teacher.
The writing brings out the melancholy associated with war and survival in times of food shortages and rationing. The book moves at a deliberate pace. Although the story is infused with much sadness, its protagonist Lynette never ever loses hope. Lynette grows from a nervous and anxious little girl into a confident young woman, who is capable of making her own choices, and who takes the initiative to survive in difficult times.
Mrs. Nuttall is almost the proverbial ‘evil’ lady, but not quite. We nearly sympathize with her and her lack of means to get by. She pushes Lynette around, but towards the end of her life, she is reduced to a pathetic state. While there is an undertone of tragedy in the story, it never quite heads that way, with Lynette holding on in the hope of better days. The book ends with Lynette having to choose between returning to Mechita or to stay at Nottingham with Tom and his family.
Hanne Bramness is an expert storyteller. The plot is tight and, although the pace of the book is slow, it moves along without being a drag. Bramness ensures there are enough events in Lynette’s life to keep the story moving, and, at the same time, does not give it all away at once.
A sombre tale which deals with the human ability to survive and find something to hope for however desperate the situation is, Lynette’s Journey is an intense, moving novella, which leaves quite an impression on your mind.
By Vishesh Unni Raghunathan
Author: Hanne Bramness
Translator (from Norwegian): Marietta Taralrud Maddrell
Illustrator: Nargis Shaikh
Age-group: 13+ years
Subject category: Contemporary/History