A Man Called Ove by Fredril Backman
I’ve been reading way too many sad and woeful books lately, and I wanted to read something funny and light for a change. So I picked up A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, mainly because the back cover promised a “funny, moving, heartwarming tale of love and community that will leave you with a spring in your step”. It was all that and much, much more.
Ove is a grumpy man of 59, which to me isn’t old, but he certainly read like a much older man. He is someone who believes that there is a right and a wrong way to do things, and he can’t understand why anyone would not take the time to do things right. He never misses a chance to point this out to people.
Forced into early retirement, Ove feels lost with having his days suddenly and unexpectedly empty from his work routine. Ove is a man of routines: he wakes up at the same time every day, has the same breakfast, and goes through the same inspection tour around the neighbourhood.
Then one day everything changes.
During his routine inspection, Ove meets a cat with half a tail and only one ear. They instantly dislike each other. That same day, a family moves in next door and they manage to back up a trailer against Ove’s house. The cat and the family soon become constant features in Ove’s life much against his protests. Everywhere he turns, there they are. They pop up in his lawn, his kitchen, and even his beloved blue Saab.
By all accounts, Ove shouldn’t be a likeable character. He is an inflexible, bitter and angry man who is skeptical about everything and everyone, but he is also hilarious, unexpectedly sweet, and extremely noble. Behind his cranky exterior there is a story of love, sadness and loss. Backman slowly peels away the layers of what makes Ove who he is in such a way that it is impossible not to be utterly charmed by this most uncharming character.
I closed A Man Called Ove with the profound sadness of a reader who knows there might never be another book quite as marvellous as this one. I recommend this book to people who enjoyed The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.