A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ove is one of the best characters I have come across in books in a long time. He keeps to himself, and finds a lot of things to be not what he thinks is right. Most people frustrate him and get him into a cranky mood. So in many ways, he isn’t exactly the person you would like to have for company. And yet, he is extremely disciplined, has strong values and shows courage which is out of the usual when needed. He starts his day, typically by inspecting the neighbourhood for burglaries or irregularities, though it is not really needed. He is good at fixing things, all in the old classical style (not quite a modern technology fan). He cannot understand people wanting things easy, and being inept at stuff they need to know - reversing a trailer for instance.
Ove’s wife Sonja has passed away recently, and he finds that life has far less to look forward to without her. Ove and Sonja’s was a strange marriage is what everyone felt – because Ove was odd, really odd. Ove stands by his wife after a bad accident – fighting the system for her when he needs to. And after her passing, Ove visits her grave regularly with flowers.
Ove has new neighbours – Patrick, Parvaneh and their kids. Ove wishes they would leave him alone but they don’t, especially Parvaneh who looks at him as a father figure. What does Ove do now? And then there are also Rune & Anita who were family friends but Ove and Rune fell out. Rune is now in a bad way, and Anita is stressed. What will Ove do? And there is a cat, who will not leave him alone.
The humour in the book is sophisticated and a delight to read. As you move along, the full range of Ove’s personality comes across. The book ends on a strong note as well, with something for all of us to take away into our lives – delve deep, there is very little to imbibe at the surface.
At the end of it, just maybe, you will feel that it is not Ove who is odd, maybe it is all the others, and us.
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