No. of pages: 294 pages
Publisher, Date: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd., March 2015
Author: Fredrik Backman
Synopsis: A grumpy yet loveable 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, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.
What I thought:
This book wasn’t as thick as some others that I’ve read yet it took me about a month to complete it. The best part was after turning the last page, I noticed there were several pages like an FAQ page posed to the author Fredrik Backman. If I hadn’t known any better, I would have thought that Ove was Backman’s alter-ego as the answers given to each of the questions were exactly how Ove would have answered if he was given an interview. Which he did, much to his chagrin.
I had been reading halfway through the book and I felt the more I read it, the more it resembled the short story I wrote and published earlier! That Happy Man, Stan was what I wrote about Stan, an old man living alone, with a scrappy cat as a companion, in an old decrepit house, quiet and reserved. So in Backman’s book, my Stan was replaced with Ove, the scrappy feline companion was the stray cat, and lived alone due the loss of a loved one who married someone else (while Ove’s wife had died). But while Ove was grumpy, Stan was not.
I have to admit, though, that Ove is a real sourpuss and a real grumpy cat too. And some of his retorts and comebacks are pretty darn good! If only I could remember what he used to say and use it against people who deserve it. At the same time, I know it’s wrong to laugh at another person’s misfortunes at their expense but somehow all the funny things that Ove struggled with, especially when modern technology has taken over the world and he can’t seem to go along with it, it was all just so laughable! But yes, he is the grumpiest man I’ve ever read about!
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman was, no doubt, a fantastic book all the same. It was funny at many points of the book, especially when it came to Ove’s reactions to and his interactions with the stray cat, his neighbours and other people around him. More often than not, the hilarity of Ove’s life left me in stitches and caused the occasional snort to tumble out of me. Ove may be known as a grumpy old sod but his heart was certainly bigger than most, and I’m not just saying it because it’s also a part of his heart condition. Just as the Daily Mail had quoted, “Warm, funny and unbearably loving!”