I don’t really know quite what to say about this book. Usually, I am conflicted when the blurb says “in the style of” or “if you liked that then you’ll love this” and this one had that. It said, “In the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.” Well, I DID like both of those books but it made me a little skeptical. What? Another book about a cantankerous old man?
Well, let me tell you. If the publisher sent me a carton of this book I’d walk up and down the street passing it out to everyone I saw and then ask for another carton. I couldn’t and didn’t say that about Harold Fry or Major Pettigrew.
I will gladly stand impatiently tapping my foot waiting for Fredrik Backman’s next book. I laughed. I sat all by myself in my chair on the back porch reading this and would guffaw out loud. And then I would cry. The intensity of the sadness when Ove talked to his wife was just a little more than I wanted to feel. But I did. All’s well, because in a few more paragraphs I was laughing out loud again. I just this minute finished this book and the tears are still stinging. But I’m smiling, too.
Ove, an irascible man who has strong ideas and strict principles and stringent routines about everything, loses his wife and then his job. His loneliness is heartrending and tender. How does one fill one’s day? How does one learn to be alone? Ove is a man of little words but big on principle, on doing a job for the sake of the job, of doing what’s right just because it’s the right thing to do, even though it’s going to put him in contact with people he considers amazingly ignorant, of being the man he was taught by his father to be.
One day new neighbors move in, Ove is introduced when the husband can’t do something as simple as backing up a U-Haul trailer without taking out Ove’s mailbox. In correcting the situation, Ove finds himself saddled with young children, a cat, teenagers, cafes, hospitals. Don’t even try to predict what’s going to happen and I can only promise you the read of the summer.