Friday Book Whimsy: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell you She’s Sorry, by  Swedish author Fredrik Backman, is – as I understand it – the second in a trilogy that includes A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here. I enjoyed A Man Called Ove very much, and Britt-Marie Was Here (which I read first, not knowing at the time that it was actually the third book in a trilogy) is one of my favorite books of all-time.

So, I began reading this book with great confidence. I thought I would like it. I wanted to like it. I tried like crazy to like it. Unfortunately, I simply didn’t.

Elsa is 7 years old, and her grandmother is her best friend. Her mother and father are divorced and in new relationships. Elsa is bullied at school, but the distractions of everyday life prevent either her mother or father from handling Elsa’s problems very effectively. Only her grandmother, who doesn’t seem to care much about what others think of her, is Elsa’s true champion.

The two of them are so close that they have a secret language and a secret world – the Land of Almost Asleep. It was the great deal of time that the author devoted to this fantasy land that prevented me from enjoying the book. I tried. I skimmed over these parts, but I knew that they were probably important, and they were. My boredom and disinterest in the fantasy part of this novel prevented me from getting out of it what it seems most readers enjoyed.

Elsa’s feelings about her grandmother are best defined by Elsa herself, thusly: Having a grandmother is like having an army. This is a grandchild’s ultimate privilege: knowing that someone is on your side, always, whatever the details. Even when you are wrong. Especially then, in fact.

As a grandmother, I can attest that there are no truer words spoken. That quote is the best thing in the book, as far as this reader is concerned.

The ending tied together the many stories, but by that time I had lost interest. It was fun to see that Britt-Marie was in this book, which (as I mentioned above) was actually published before the novel devoted to her. It gave me good background for that novel.

I am definitely in the minority in my dislike of the book, so I suggest if you liked the other books, you should give this one a try.

Here is a link to the book.

 

Friday Book Whimsy: A Man Called Ove

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.

Here is a link to the book.

Friday Book Whimsy: Britt-Marie Was Here

searchBritt-Marie Was Here, by Swedish author Fredrik Backman, just kept showing up. It would be one of the books that would be suggested, ala if you enjoyed this book, you will enjoy Britt-Marie Was Here on a lot of the book sites I regularly peruse. The libraries I use recommended the book. Blogs that I follow would suggest it as a book worth reading.

All right, all right, I will read it, I finally said, though the synopsis didn’t exactly grab me.

Britt-Marie is a 60-something woman who leaves her controlling husband after she learns he is having an affair. She is compulsive and entirely set in her ways. She has been since she was a little girl and her much-adored sister is killed in a car accident. It should have been you, is the message that Britt-Marie gets regularly from her mom, whether or not it is spoken out loud.

So Britt-Marie begins the process of starting a new life. The only job she is able to find is the manager of a recreation center in a very small town. She has spent most of her life taking care of others, and has no idea who Britt-Marie is and why anyone would care.

But she learns that people do care, and begins to put together a new life where people accept her for who she is. And who play soccer. You will have to read the book to find out why soccer is important to the story.

The author has written a couple of other books – the intriguingly titled My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and A Man Called Ove. Much like Britt-Marie Was Here, they didn’t grab my attention. After reading this book, which might end up being one of my favorite novels ever, I will be reading his other books as well.

Britt-Marie Was Here was a breath of fresh air after reading some fairly dark novels lately. I seriously loved every word of this book, and want Britt-Marie to spend some time with me. The ending pleased me a great deal.

I highly recommend this book.

Here is a link to the book.

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