This was a book I knew nothing about before I picked it up – the title caught my attention in a bookshop, the blurb made me more interested. While one of the things I love about the bookish community online is that I hear about loads of books, it’s also really fun to go into a novel without preconceptions once in a while. I read this in almost one sitting, and absolutely loved it.
Landing begins with an encounter – an old Spanish man and a young Dutch woman sat beside each other on a flight from Barcelona to Amsterdam. He tells her about his life, how he is travelling to see his son. She listens, and then sleeps for most of the flight. During landing, the man dies, and she takes a small box he had with him, out of curiosity. From here, we learn about her past and how it has determined where she is now – how it placed her on that flight beside him, in his last moments. And from him, we hear the story of his life – his work, love, and family.
These two narratives are presented in parallel with very little overlap. My main worry when I began reading was that it would feel jarring to flip back and forth between, that I was reading two stories condensed into one book – but that wasn’t the case at all. The themes of both character’s lives echo one another. One takes in a character’s whole adult life, while the other covers just a few months, and this allowed a very gentle plot to feel constantly moving.
I’ve been trying to figure out whose narration I actually enjoyed more, and it’s impossible. I think I preferred reading His sections, but the Her chapters are equally fascinating, because of the realisitic absurdity of some of her behaviour. This character does things she cannot always explain, but in a sense I could completely comprehend.
I absolutely recommend this unusual little book for anyone seeking something a bit out of the ordinary but very touching.