Friday, August 19, 2016

Book review: "The Hidden Letters of Velta B." by Gina Ochsner

After reading this books description I thought I had a pretty good idea of what would happen. I was wrong, as usual. What I couldn't have counted on was the lovely writing that this author used to tell this interesting (though sometimes confusing) story.

This book is set in Latvia, and I learned all kinds interesting folklore and traditions. My buddy at Myths and Legends podcast could fill some episodes with those Latvian yarns. Like, you're supposed to sweep the path behind everyone after a funeral so the dead persons spirit won't follow anyone home. And that gypsies give the gift of a down pillow at a funeral.

It's basically the story of a small town and a family who loves there. It's set in about the 90s but it feels pretty timeless. There's: ghosts, unplanned pregnancies, Baptists who must have a piano on a certain side of the worship hall, a small town that needs an economic boost, a mad (but friendly) scientist, a swindler uncle who is still a little lovable until he turns totally loathsome, grief, lost love and cows in flotation jackets.


Here's one of my favorite snippets of the book (and an example of the authors lovely style):

You tell me  that at the root of the word mirror is miracle or wonder. I have always believed in miracles. I credit your grandfather for this unshakable belief that the inexplicable, unbiddable, and wholly wonderful does and can occur. And I believe in blessings. You cannot be wondrously healed if you haven't first been terribly wounded.

I liked a lot of this book, though sometimes it was kind of hard to follow. And who I thought would really be the star of this book was really just being told the story like the reader is, but that's my own suppositions. I'll give it a 3.65.


  1. Ooh, you had me at Latvian folklore and traditions (which I know nothing about) and then especially with mention of ghosts and small towns. I haven't heard of this book before. I'll have to check it out.

    1. Hahaha I'm the same way, folktales and myths of a country I can barely find on a map? Yes! I'm in! It's pretty new, and it doesn't have that many reviews on goodreads, so you'll be an early adapter!


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