A Man Called Ove
A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman
Ove is 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 neighbour 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.
Ove is a grumpy yet loveable man whose solitary world is turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Translated from the Swedish by Henning Koch, this is a humanly warm totally engaging story.
Each chapter encapsulates a part of Ove’s life. It doesn’t flow day by day or year by year, but there are flashbacks such as o ne chapter describing how his father acquired his first car and another how Ove met Sonja who put the colour in his life.
And so it goes, each chapter giving us a little part of him and how and why he reacts and who he was, and what he has finally become.
We meet so many including his off and on again friend Rune who now drives a Mercedes, his wife Anita and the cat with missing fur.
Read the book and be delighted.
Ove is a 59-year-old Swede who has an autism spectrum disorder. His eccentric behaviour produces a few smiles but not the laugh-out-loud behaviour of the Aspergers character Professor Don Tillman in The Rosie Project.
He meets his colourful wife who loves him for his very different personality and black and white view on everything.
She colours his world and after she dies he is desperate to join her. Multiple failed attempts to end his lonely life result in unwanted interactions with his neighbours and a mangy cat.
The author’s creation of the thoughts, behaviour and interpersonal relationships of this unusual character is worth a read.
Sometimes described as a grumpy old man, I could certainly relate to the central character of this book. One might call Ove a curmudgeon or bad tempered, churlish, cantankerous person, but his actions show him to be considerate, generous and kind. After the death of his wife Ove wants only to join her in the afterlife.
However, his many attempts to end it all are thwarted by a vivacious, loveable, demanding new neighbour and loyalty to an old friend and neighbour. Ove and Rune have fought over the body corporate, water heaters, mowing the lawn and the cars they drive.
While tinged with sadness the story is one of a highly principled good man with a healthy disrespect for bureaucracy.
A thoroughly enjoyable book. I wasn’t convinced at the start though.
Ove is trying to buy an i-pad that he calls an o-pad. I thought here’s another joke about older people not understanding technology. Ho-hum. But it quickly turns into a portrait of a 59-year-old man who has lost his wife and his job, the two things he loves and that give him his identity and purpose. What’s left for Ove?
Well, his life gets taken over by his kindly incompetent neighbours and the absurdity starts. A great read. This is a book to lift your spirits.
I liked this book. Seemingly a simple but sweet story at the outset, it leads on to surprising depths. Ove, the character of the title, is an ageing, grieving widower who is irritable, and pernickety, a slave to his daily routine and dismissive of the incompetent. He is the sole occupier of the moral high ground.
However, like many a curmudgeon there is another, deeper side to his character. Underneath the defensive barnacles we discover a loving son and husband, a good man who possesses a heightened sense of social responsibility and community spirit.
The book filled me with new hope about relationships - both personal and societal. Although there is a certain predictability about the story, the writer handles the spectrum of human emotions without lapsing into self-indulgent sentimentality.
I loved this book - predictable ending but utterly captivating! In the first chapter we are introduced to a grumpy Ove as he frustrates a young computer salesperson.
Gradually, with gems of imagery, the author reveals Ove’s background, his family and work life all leading to Ove’s stage of life where he has lost his job and has nothing to live for.
There is so much emotion in this story of Ove – humour, sadness and inevitability.
The chapters portraying Ove finding his soul mate are beautiful with Ove likening her laughter to “how champagne bubbles would have sounded if they were capable of laughter”.
To say more would give too much away.
This is a rare book likely to appeal to a wide range of readers. I am happy to recommend it.