I believe I might be the last avid reader to have not read A Man Called Ove, a novel by Fredrik Backman. Part of the reason that I put off reading this book was that I so loved another novel written by Backman — Britt-Marie Was Here — and didn’t feel that anything could compare favorably to one of my favorite novels ever written.
The comparisons between these two books are obvious. Both protagonists are seemingly crabby people who manage to find happiness despite themselves. Britt-Marie was not so much crabby as simply set in her ways.
On the other hand, Ove is as crabby as one can be, and just wants to be left alone following the death of his beloved wife, who brought out the best in him. He gets up at the same time every day. He eats the same breakfasts and does the same activities. However, he can’t get over the loss of his wife, and decides that suicide is the only answer.
Except that one suicide attempt after another keeps getting thwarted, first by his new neighbors who knock over his mailbox while trying to back up a truck; an estranged neighbor is in desperate need for his help; a scroungy cat seems to think he lives with Ove. Eventually, Ove realizes that he is important to a lot of people.
The novel is – in a word – charming. I don’t think I liked Ove quite as much as Britt-Marie, but the novel was an absolute pleasure to read. The characters are loveable and their funny ways at looking at life – and at Ove – made me laugh.
Anyone who reads this book and doesn’t feel more hopeful and happy after is simply a curmudgeon him or herself.
Treat yourself to a few days with Ove.