Ove kept exactly to every speed limit, even on that 50kph road where the recently arrived idiots in suits came tanking along at 90. Among their own houses they put up speed bumps and damnable numbers of signs about 'Children. Playing', but when driving past other people's houses it was apparently less important.
If you wanted to buy only one bouquet for 25 bucks but had to pay 3 bucks extra for using your credit card (because you don't have cash on you), wouldn't you just pay 28 bucks for the whole thing? If you were Ove, you would be so angered by the idea of paying the extra 3 bucks that you would buy an extra bouquet you don't want, for a total of 50 bucks, simply on principle.
A Man Called Ove is the story of an angry grumpy irritable yet very lovable man. He doesn't like people or technology. He will let you know immediately if you ignore or violate a rule, and you will not hear the end of it. All he wants to do is die, that's such a simple thing. Except someone always keeps interrupting his plans. Either they want his help or his opinion. Most of the time, these interruptions come in the guise of his new neighbors, the pregnant foreigner and her lanky husband who cannot reverse a trailer. Pretty soon, his former good friend's wife joins in because said former good friend now has Alzheimer's and the city is talking about taking him to a home. As if that is not enough, there is a cat that frequently hangs around near him and guilt trips him into helping it. Ove doesn't even like cats, so it's very infuriating to be bossed around by a cat. Still, he is persistent to die in his nice jacket. Tomorrow is the day he will manage to do it, for sure.
If you liked The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, you will adore this book. If you didn't like it, you will still adore this book. Ove is such a gem of a character. The kind of person who can annoy you with his old man grumpiness but you will get charmed reading about. I don't even want to compare Ove to Harold Fry because the latter's book was quite somber while A Man Called Ove is the most delightful book I've read since Where'd You Go, Bernadette? So if you liked the Bernadette book, you'll love this one.
I am not even sure how to coherently phrase this review, because really I want you all to just get your hands on this book. So forgive me if I sound a little like a bumbling stammering person. I promise you, it's awe for this book that's causing it.
Ove is very eccentric. He hates Japanese cars. He also hates American cars and French cars. In fact, the only car he approves of is the Saab. He has never owned any other car. Whenever he sold his current car, it was always to buy another Saab. He moans that people don't even make cars like that. A good friend of his used to drive a Volvo. But when he bought a BMW one day, that was it. Ove did not talk to him again. According to Ove, there was no coming back from that. Every morning, he had a routine. Even if he was going to die that day, the routine never changed. He went around his neighborhood making sure that bikes were in the shed (if they were not, he put them there), cars were in the garages, dumpster bins were in order, and that everything was exactly the same everyday, just as it should be.
Ove was also a Mr. Fixit. He pretty much did everything by himself, including building his own home. He has zero respect for today's generation that does not know anything about bleeding radiators or driving a real car. But he is a person who values souvenirs. He is not a materialistic person but give him a squiggly drawing made by your child and he will pin it to his refrigerator. All his eccentricities are funny to read about, but Ove has a reason for each. Why he loves Saab, why he hates white collar people. He is a very righteous man who has had his share of hard times, but he has come back a stronger person because of it.
A Man Called Ove is probably my favorite book this year. It's funny, charming, heartfelt, and moving, not to mention a very nicely paced readable book. It has a very unmixable mix of characters who somehow come together really well. Each chapter title begins with "A Man Called Ove..." and it's fascinating how the author has managed to say so much about this man who initially appears as if he couldn't have any backstory. Most importantly, this book is like someone you can hang out with just to have a really good time.
I received this book for free for review from the publisher, Atria Books, via NetGalley. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman releases in the US on July 15th.
Armchair reading in Sweden