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Book Review: A man called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Have you ever a read a book that you enjoyed so much; you want to start reading it again immediately?

A book that’s so heart-warmingly beautiful you wish you could experience it again for the first time, even though it’s made it you cry.

A book that’s so good you’ve ignored your husband for hours on a Sunday afternoon.

A book that leaves you bereft when you’ve finished it.

A man called Ove by Fredrick Backman did all that more for me.

This book was wonderful, it’s a perfect Christmas read (though it isn’t about Christmas) that will give you all the feels and remind you that the world is made up of good people and don’t we all need that at the moment?

Ove is an irascible 59-year-old man, he’s a stickler for the rules, he isn’t overly fond of people, he likes to be left alone, he’s viewed as bitter and a bit of a nightmare neighbour and customer you would not want to serve in a shop.

Underneath all that, there’s a story of sadness and love.

Ove has lost his wife, Sonya, and then lost his job. He feels he no longer has a purpose, he’s ready to die, he wants to be reunited with Sonya, Ove is planning to die by suicide.

“We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.” Fredrik Backman

He’s got it all planned out when he’s interrupted by his new neighbours, the very heavily pregnant and blunt Parvaneh and her husband whose bad parking has destroyed Ove’s mailbox.

The relentlessly chatty Parvaneh, her eternally sunny husband Patrick and their two equally chatty daughters do not give Ove a minute’s peace.

And so, begins a tale of unlikely friendships, stray cats, driving lessons, stand offs with the authorities and love.

It’s a book that will have you howling with laughter one minute and sobbing the next.

It’s comical and life affirming.

I suppose you could say this book is like the film Up but for adults – I defy you to watch the opening sequence of that film with a dry eye.

It’s a story about love and grief that Backman tells with empathy and a dose of comedy. 

Ove’s tale jumps between the past and present unravelling his childhood and his life with Sonya and the present day six months after Sonya’s death. 

I have to admit that when I started this book, I assumed Sonya had left him for being a cantankerous git and he was trying to win her back with flowers, the reveal that he was actually talking to her gravestone and his sincerity, broke me.

No one understand Ove, Sonya always did. They were complete opposites; she taught him to live

“He was a man of black and white. And she was colour. All the colour he had”. 

“He went through life with his hands firmly shoved into his pockets. She danced.” 

“She just smiled, said that she loved books more than anything, and started telling him excitedly what each of the ones in her lap was about. And Ove realised that he wanted to hear her talking about the things she loved for the rest of his life.” Fredrik Backman

Theirs was a story that had its fair share of heartbreak, it was a love that didn’t demand anything, a life filled with affection and understanding. It wasn’t a big showy love affair; it was quiet and genuine and knowing how it ended made it bittersweet.

He did everything he could to protect and care for her, even after she’d died.

He is lost in grief. He doesn’t want to make friends, as the story goes on, he doesn’t get much choice in that as he’s repeatedly called upon to help Parvaneh and quite a few other neighbours. He tries to resist but constantly thinks about what Sonya would say, he’s also always lived his life by doing what is right, so his hands are tied. 

Though on the outset he seems to be a grumpy stickler for the rules, throughout his life he’s always fought and stood up for the right things, no matter how difficult it is.

The new and old rekindled friendships Ove makes, force him into doing that again. Much to his chagrin he realises he cares for and loves the band of people who won’t let him be and begins to live again, for himself.

The other characters have no idea what they’ve done for Ove, and Ove probably thinks nothing of what he’s done for them. I hope Fredrik Backman realises what this book has done for me, it turned me into an emotional wreck, sobbing with happy tears saying the world isn’t utterly shit.

Ultimately, this is a reminder to us all to never take anything for granted, to say the things you mean to the people that matter

“All people at root are time optimists. We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.” Fredrik Backman

After two years of restrictions and lockdowns, it amazes me that I still need that reminder, I guess it’s true, we’re all, time optimists, however, I have no intention of being left holding on to words like ‘if’.

So, if you’ve watched all the feel good, heart-warming Christmas films that bring a lump to your throat already this year, pick up A man called Ove. It is a tonic to a crazy world and will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Merry Christmas to you all xxx

radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

18 thoughts on “Book Review: A man called Ove by Fredrik Backman Leave a comment

  1. Great review! I hadn’t heard of this one before but it sounds amazing – I love books that make you want to experience it all again! I love that you compared it to the film Up, too, I loved that. Thanks for sharing, this sounds like a really beautiful and emotional read that I’ll be adding to my tbr x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was not aware it was a book but I have watched this story in the movies about 4 years ago….maybe longer. It was a movie I absolutely loved. It made me cry and think about it for days afterwards. Now that I know I feel tempted to read the book also.
    Reading your review felt like I was watching the film again. Fantastic job!


  3. Excellent review Sarah. I read this book a few months after my husband passed away and I loved it. He could have been Ove. I laughed and I cried while reading this one and definitely recommend it. I also watched the movie, which was well done, but the book was better. You really hit the nail on the head with your review.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really wanted to try reading this book. I’m sorry to say that I’m attracted to the book covers (trying to get out of that). I also didn’t want to read too much into your review just in case there were some heavy spoilers. But other than that, your first few sentences had me even more captivated by this book.

    Liked by 1 person

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