Tuesday 14 March 2017

A man called Ove by Fredrik Backman

From Goodreads...

"In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?"

You get the idea. This is a grumpy and lonely guy. Only he doesn't realize it, because he's chosen this way of life. But life has a way of changing us too, and Ove's interactions with the neighbour who damages his property, the children, when he minds them for about ten minutes with their mother at hospital, and the pets and other dysfunctional neighbours all go some way to proving this true. 

The best advert is some quotes: 

“Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.”

“And the poser has a girlfriend. Ten years younger. The Blond Weed, Ove calls her. Tottering around the streets like an inebriated panda on heels as long as box wrenches, with clown paint all over her face and sunglasses so big that one can’t tell whether they’re a pair of glasses or some kind of helmet. She also has one of those handbag animals, running about off the leash and pissing on the paving stones outside Ove’s house. She thinks Ove doesn’t notice, but Ove always notices.” 

"'Once upon a time there was a little train,' reads Ove, with all the enthusiasm of someone reciting a tax statement."

Of course, Ove also tells his story. And it's sad. But it's well interspersed with the current one, that you don't even notice it, it just fills in the gaps. This is where some of the loveliest quotes are - about the love he used to share and the life he lived.

All in all, a lovely, unexpected heartwarming read. If you think you've read others like it, (The Unlikely Pilgrimage, The man who climbed out of the window, etc) you have, in that they're quirky, and make you smile. This is a little different. It's funnier - more laugh out loud than smile; it is more old-fashioned and sarcastic at the same time; it really hangs together and it has way more charm than the others I've read. For that, I'll remember it with affection.

I listened to this book on Audible. The narration was great - wry and not overdone.

4 stars.
ISBN: 9781444775815

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