Sunday 26 July 2015

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman

At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.

But isn't it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so?

In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible...

What did I think?

On a rare day off from work, I popped into my local library and snatched this book off the shelf - it must have just come in as I was the first person to check it out.  I had already read Fredrik Backman's second book, My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises, and loved it, so naturally I had A Man Called Ove in my wishlist.

I really love the cover of this - it almost tells the story in its own right.  Grumpy old man and the Cat Annoyance.  I felt that the cat was a bit of a Jiminy Cricket for Ove, turning up at just the right moments and "saying" just the right things with its actions.  I think of Ove as a bit of an egg (and not just because the name Ove reminds me of the word "oeuf") hard and solid on the outside but soft on the inside. It was lovely to see the cracks starting to appear, brought on my Ove's relationships with the cat, his pregnant neighbour Parvaneh and the local youth Adrian, to name but a few.  There were some very funny and poignant moments in the book and I won't spoil any of them here - you'll just have to read it for yourself.

To me, it's very much a modern telling of It's a Wonderful Life.  Ove thinks he's on his own and has nothing to live for and nobody to miss him.  I loved reading about Ove's interactions with every single character in this book, it's clear from the wonderful writing that Ove has touched many lives.  He is such a principled man, with almost a childlike innocence at times - like when he meets Adrian's friend and boss, Mirsad, he certainly won't win any awards for political correctness!

I did shed a few tears when I was reading this book, but it has left me with a lovely warm glow around my heart.  I think sometimes we see grumpy, miserable, or angry people and make an immediate assumption, without questioning the reasons behind their attitude.  It's a wonderful portrayal of the human spirit and I think deep down we all have a bit of Ove in us.

The kindest grumpiest guy I expect I'll ever read about.  I absolutely loved it!

My rating:

Buy it now! From the Book Depository with free delivery
Head over to Amazon - everyone should have this book in their library

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