Wednesday 29 November 2017

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Don't hate me, but this was (by far) not the best Fredrik Backman book I have read. I've read A man called Ove and The Scandal/Beartown this year.

Britt-Marie is a little quirky old(ish) lady, who, left alone, needs a job. She makes lists, insists on punctuality and actually doing what you say you will (gasp) from the employment agent, and is a paragon of cleanliness - baking soda has so many uses. She gets a job, but it's in the small town of Borg, where everything is closing - last one out turns out the lights. So far, we have a few trademarks already - quirky old character, small dying town, what are we missing? Of course, the sport - here it's football (soccer), about which Borg is mad and highly superstitious, and Britt-Marie is clueless.

If you're after a funny warmhearted off-the-wall story, you'd do well to read Ove. I can't make up my mind if you should read this one first, because you may enjoy it more before Ove - but then you may not like this so never discover the joys of Ove. Oh, whatever - you decide.

I'll not judge Backman's writing by this one. It could be (mis)guidance from his editors that led him down the same familiar and well tested profitable paths to publication. And the writing is still good - short, well-crafted sentences, dialogue that jumps off the page, humour underpinning most situations and poking you in the ribs every so often. It also features wonderful interactions between special characters of different generations and a completely lovable story about loss and connection followed by redemption. 

I was a bit sorry for Britt-Marie though - her story didn't feel hand-crafted for her, it felt like a mass-produced plastic packet of bread, instead of a floury-fresh kneaded sourdough loaf- she deserved more.

3 stars

You may also enjoy Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman or The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce.

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