Review Blog

Dec 18 2019

The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Lucerne by Katrina Nannestad

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ABC Books/ Harper Collins, 2019. ISBN: 9780733338199.
Highly recommended for readers aged 9-12. Themes: Family relationships; Lucerne; Mystery; Secrets. The girl is Freja - a delightful and wise young lady; the dog is Finnegan - a rambunctious and exuberant hound, with his nose in everyone's business and their food as well; and the writer is Tobias - a clumsy crime-writer with a heart of gold, or perhaps chocolate. They have arrived in Lucerne with the opportunity to reconnect with Freja's mother Clementine who is fragile and ailing in a hospital overlooking Lake Lucerne. Freja is living with the hope of a miracle, and to some extent she discovers small miracles in the love of the people around her, and the opportunities to solve another mystery involving copious amounts of milk chocolate, the Swiss alps and a woman bandaged from head to foot. The delight of a story with chocolate, alpine castles, secret passages, and wonderful and unique characters is sometimes shadowed by the secret that Freja's frail and very unwell mother has yet to share with her daughter. Tobias and Finnegan take Freja to wonderful places between her visits to the hospital, and the growing love story with Tobias and Vivi - the Italian chocolatier, plus the growing mystery of the chocolate thefts distracts Freja from thinking too deeply about the secret that her mother has not shared with her. Ultimately this is a story about love and the love that can be known in family and in overcoming difficulties together.
This is the third book in the series with The girl, the dog and the writer and it could be read in isolation, but the personality growth and maturing of Freja would be understood more fully by reading all three books - in addition this would give three times the enjoyment!. The dog and writer are both impossibly reckless in a completely loving and warm way. Who wouldn't want to have discussions about the way a body might fall from a third story building so that it might be included in the next crime novel, or have the cream licked off your hot chocolate and the chocolate licked from the corners of your mouth? Their personalities and slightly disorderly approach to life contrast beautifully with the endearing and growing bravery of Freja.
Everything about this book is sweet (and not just because there are lots of chocolate tortes and chocolate delicacies scattered throughout) and the relationship warmth between all the characters will warm the heart of any reader.
Carolyn Hull

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