‘Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots – joggers, neighbours who can’t reverse a trailer properly and shop assistants who talk in code.

But isn’t it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so?

In the end you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistable…’

I first heard about A Man Called Ove through an online book club that I’m a member of. Many of the other members raved about it, and it was on the top of many of their best reads from last year.

When I started reading it, I was disappointed because it just did not grab me the way I expected it to. I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. Ove was just the type of person that I can’t stand – grumpy, stuck in the mud and stubborn, with no or little regard for the people around him. The opening scene of the book introduces us to Ove, who is in the midst of trying to buy an Ipad, and abusing the salesperson who is trying to sell it to him. Maybe I’m oversensitive because when I’m not reading books and reviewing them here, I work as a salesperson who has to put up with abusive customers on a daily basis, but it did not lead me to warm to the character.

However, I am delighted to say that I was wrong in my first impressions – this is a fantastic book. The author alternates between Ove of today and Ove in his youth in each chapter, and in doing so, gives us a great insight into his past, and why he is the way he is today.

Ove is a curious character. He likes to keep himself to himself, and always has done, as did his father before him. He’s a handyman, and a hard worker. He learned these skills as a young age while watching his father, and they’re skills that he’s proud of still, and he looks down his nose at people who don’t have the same knowledge and skills. Because as far as he is concerned, people just don’t spend the time learning the proper skills.

The more we find out about Ove and the life he had. the more we come to understand him. He’s been hurt, he’s experienced loss, he’s had to fight for what’s his, and as a result, it has made him stubborn, and with no desire to let people into his life.

This starts to change when his new neighbours move in. Parvaneh, heavily pregnant,  and her husband and two children certainly make an impression when they move in, by reversing their trailer into Ove’s letterbox (in an area where there are no cars allowed no less!).

Slowly, they begin to ingratiate themselves into Ove’s life, and draw him out from himself. With a host of other characters, all well written and likeable in their own ways, Ove eventually finds himself with quite a circle of friends, whether he wants them or not. And that’s before you take the cat into account.

I can’t adequately put into words just how much I adored this book. It took me quite a while to get into it, and then it seemed to take me a long time to actually read it, but this is a book that deserves your time. It is not a book to be skimmed. It deserves to be savoured, and enjoyed, and read carefully. Ove really is a brilliant character, loveable despite how hard he is to like, and I sobbed when the book was finished and I had to leave him.

I’d recommend this book to just about everyone, it’s definitely one to have on your ‘read’ list. I envy anyone who gets to read this for the first time, you’re in for a treat!

One thought on “A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman

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