A Man Called Ove: Fredrik Backman

★★★★

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I have a huge soft spot for Fredrik Backman. He has a talent for writing charming, heartwarming stories about human nature in small communities. Here are the vulnerable, real people beneath the spiny carapaces of the curmudgeons we meet in our daily life, laid bare with compassion and gentleness. And there’s no curmudgeon quite like Ove. This was Backmann’s debut novel and, while already displaying the hallmarks he would develop in his later books, it’s probably the darkest of the three I’ve read so far. That’s mainly because, when we first meet Ove, he’s very carefully preparing to commit suicide.

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Britt-Marie Was Here: Frederik Backman

★★★★

In the wake of My Grandmother sends her Regards and Apologises, I was keen to read more of Frederik Backman’s gently ironic stories. Luckily, my library also had Britt-Marie Was Here in stock. This takes place after My Grandmother and so, if you’ve read that, you’ll understand more of the backstory here. However, Britt-Marie also serves very easily as a standalone tale, a life-affirming story of an anxious, touchy middle-aged woman learning that she still has something to offer the world – and herself.

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My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises: Fredrik Backman

★★★★

Fredrik Backman has sidled into my awareness during the last couple of months and I now marvel that it took me so long to discover him. Funnily enough, this wasn’t the first of his books that I planned to read – that was his debut novel, A Man Called Ove – but when I spotted it in the library the other day, I thought I’d take the plunge. And it is absolutely brilliant. A big-hearted, generous, poignant novel, this tells the story of almost-eight-year-old Elsa, her rakish Granny, the wonderful world of fairy tales that they share, and the treasure hunt that Granny leaves behind for Elsa when she dies. A story of eccentricities, regrets and second chances, this had me choking back tears at least three times, while simultaneously wanting to give it a massive bear-hug. Utterly magical.

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