Friday, November 18, 2016

A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman [Book recommendation]

Translated from Swedish by Henning Koch
Book obtained from: Library audio book [2012]

Description: Ove [pronounced Oova or Uva] is a cranky old man who lives in a block of row houses.  He is rigid with his “rules”, and after his wife dies he just wants to be left alone.  New neighbors move in across from him and turn his life upside down.

Plot:  The book starts out slowly and there really isn't a burning question [like whodunnit or will the earth be destroyed] to pull the reader thru the book.  But little questions crop up every now and then, causing the reader to want to know the answers.  There is a main story line in the present, with the new neighbors and how they turn Ove's life upside down, and a flashback story line that let's the reader know how Ove got to be such a cranky old man. The book alternated between making me laugh out loud and causing me to get all teared up, sometimes within the space of less than five minutes.

Characterization:  Most of the characters are well-rounded and have individual personalities.  The cat isn't all that believable because it is portrayed more like a dog, but if you can get around that, it does add to the story.  It's also a little odd that random folks seem to want to be friends with Ove and ask him for favors, even tho he's not a friendly guy.  He's not evil, just not friendly.  Also, Ove is 59 years old, but acts more like he's at least 10 years older.  Maybe living where it snows so much adds years to a life?

Setting:  Sweden in fall/winter.  Nicely described, I was able to picture every scene.

Other:  The audio book was narrated by George Newbern and he definitely added to the characterization of all of the characters.

Overall:  If you can get past the first 50 pages or so, the book is definitely worth the read.  It's a rare book that makes me laugh and cry in the same chapter.

Grade: B+

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