Thursday, December 17, 2015

Review - A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Book Summary

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet lovable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window.  He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse.  People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpeted friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul.  All of which will change one crank old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew's Last STand, Fredrik Backman's novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

Published - July 2014

My Review - 4

I read this book for my book club and was not happy with it at all.  I was only at 60% when we met this week but had only started to enjoy it a little.  Well what a turn around, I enjoyed this little gem, the characters really grew on me and a beautiful message - do not wait for what you can do or say today with or for those you love.  We must let it go to embrace and cherish future memories.  Loved it.  For those that enjoyed the character of Ove immediately, I can see a 5 star but it took me half of the book which is why I can't go beyond a 4, this almost became a did not finish, which would have been a shame.

Each chapter started with A Man Called Ove..... so fitting as it all begins and ends with Ove.  His wife has passed away and so we meet Ove who wants to kill himself, he is unable to continue living without her and has a few attempts which really are a little comical.  During one of his attempts comes a knock at the door with the new neighbors, bloody brilliant.  I was cracking up as Ove in his own way always swore, bloody this bloody that.  He was only 59 but seriously he came across as an old grandpa, approximately 80 years old.

The neighbor next door, Parvaneh which means butterfly was a symbol to me of new beginnings.  She was the beauty in Ove's black and white world without realizing it.  Parvaneh, her partner, 2 little girls and a baby on the way.  They had no boundaries which drove Ove crazy but in the end they were exactly what he needed in order to understand there is more to life once you feel your life has ended, very touching story.

There is a cat in the story and I know the cat symbolized something also but I still can't put my finger on it. I could have done without the cat story to be honest but I think maybe one day it will hit me what he symbolised, maybe also a new beginning.

Ove is what we called old fashioned, completely goes by basics and his principles.  A sign is a sign and who dears disrespect it.  The Chief neighbourhood watch you hate but love.  He wakes at 6am every day to check everything.  He would write letters of complaints continuously, over years to get his point across to "the white shirts".  These were the one's who made the last decisions, the  government etc. He went on and on about the white shirts, it was the pain in his backside which made him not trust anyone. He never lied but had no filter which you just had to learn to love.

Parvaneh was my favourite character, she figured out exactly who Ove was and became his angel watching over him for his late wife Sonia.  Just a beautiful story. I really would have lost out on this one, glad I didn't abandon it.

If you have read it, what do you think the cat and Parvaneh symbolized?


  1. I am one of those who liked the story from the beginning. Ove did come across as older than he actually was. I loved Parvaneh and her daughters. I liked the cat but can't remember enough of the story to figure out symbolism.

    I did like Major Pettigrew's Last Stand more than this one.

    Great review!

  2. I really liked this too. It's been a while since I read it so I can't remember any symbolism.

  3. I've heard good things about this one. I rather love books about older people. There are just so many stories about beautiful people in their 20s!

  4. Oh I loved this one but then I read it way before it was released, when there was zero hype around it. I generally struggle with books I "have" to read, even for book clubs.

  5. I love this kind of curmudgeonly character, so I am looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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