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Monday, April 18, 2022

Review: A Man Called Ove

 A Man Called Ove is a book about a grumpy old man. At the start of the novel you're given a poor impression of him, but as the book progresses, you get more back story about how he came to be the way he was, and he starts opening up to people in his life, including the immigrants who move in next door.

To some extent, the book plays into the stereotype of typical men:

Whatever the case, he had eaten in advance so he could afford to let her order whatever she wanted from the menu, while opting for the cheapest dish for himself. And at least if she asked him something he wouldn’t have his mouth full of food. To him it seemed like a good plan. (kindle loc 1646)

There's the constant obsession with cars:

 Three years later Sonja got a more modern wheelchair and Ove bought a hatchback, a Saab 900. Rune bought a Volvo 265 because Anita had started talking about having another child. Then Ove bought two more Saab 900s and after that his first Saab 9000. Rune bought a Volvo 265 and eventually a Volvo 745 station wagon. But no more children came. One evening Sonja came home and told Ove that Anita had been to the doctor. And a week later a Volvo 740 stood parked in Rune’s garage. The sedan model. Ove saw it when he washed his Saab. In the evening Rune found a half bottle of whiskey outside his door. They never spoke about it. (kindle loc 2949)

 As entertainment goes, the book is a little cliched, and grants everyone involved a happy ending, but once in a while there's a gem:

“Loving someone is like moving into a house,” Sonja used to say. “At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you, as if fearing that someone would suddenly come rushing in through the door to explain that a terrible mistake had been made, you weren’t actually supposed to live in a wonderful place like this. Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfection, but rather for its imperfections. You get to know all the nooks and crannies. How to avoid getting the key caught in the lock when it’s cold outside. Which of the floorboards flex slightly when one steps on them or exactly how to open the wardrobe doors without them creaking. These are the little secrets that make it your home.” (kindle loc 3639)

 The book is easy to read, with very short chapters, and I found it enjoyable light entertainment. Don't expect anything serious and you won't be disappointed.

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