Book Review: A Man Called Ove

Image Source

Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Sceptre (7 May 2015)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 271 on Amazon
Pages: 320

Just like 'Wonder', I heard of this book solely on Social Media. Most of my friends were raving about it and I had only read glowing reviews of it. When the husband gave me this book among others as a New year gift, I took my time to start reading it. Normally, I do not like over hyped books. Also, I wasn't too sure if I wanted to read the story of a grumpy old man. I have seen way too many of them in real life and I have no interest in knowing their stories. But Ove was apparently different. Finally, after many many friends pushed me to read this one, I picked it up and did not rest until I finished it. I just finished the book this morning and I had to review it almost immediately.

Ove is exactly as the blurb says. A curmudgeon 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 rightly call him “the bitter neighbor from hell". One November, Patrick and Parvaneh move in next door with their two daughters and the third child on the way. Patrick accidentally flattens Ove's mailbox in the process of reversing his car and thus Ove is forced to welcome this family into his life.

Fifty nine year old Ove has recently been forced to retire and is yet to come to terms with the death of his wife. He's loud, brash and everything that you do not want a person to be. Yet, he's endearing and I wanted to know him more with each page. He makes up names for the people and cats around him. The cat who always has to pee on his pavement is called Cat Annoyance. The clumsy Patrick is called The Lanky One and Parvaneh is rightly called The Pregnant One. Initially, when Ove speaks to his wife talking to her about his daily routines and asking her for her opinions, I did not realize that she was dead. The love he has for her is so sweet and clearly forever.

When the author introduces us to Ove, you cannot help but think how tough it would be to live with a person like him. It is very hard to imagine that a woman could actually fall in love with him and stay with him for forty odd years. The back story to this is way too beautiful. Ove loves Sonja more than anything else in the world. She loves him the same too, but she also loves her father and her cat. Ove's life revolved around her for as long as she was around. Once she was gone, he wanted to go too. This takes us to multiple attempts of suicides that fail hilariously. As tough as he is, Ove has a kind heart and is always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. Yes, he would curse, grumble and yell, but he'll get the work done. Be it driving his annoying neighbors back and forth to the hospital, teaching the pregnant one how to drive or taking in a homosexual and a homeless cat. His unsaid concern for his frenemy Rune warms your heart too.

While the book is the story of a grumpy man, it teaches you so much. Like 'Wonder' this one too changed something inside me. It teaches us the importance of love, to start with. And how one should care about others, no matter what. While Ove remains my favorite character of the book, I loved Parvaneh too. She's so sporty and takes care of Ove like a mother. She reprimands him, makes fun of him and still gets him to do the thing she wants done. Their relationship is so damn cute!

The writing is simple and flows brilliantly. It is a translation, of course. Henning Koch, who translated this book from Swedish has done a fabulous job for keeping the language simple and effortless. His descriptions are brilliant and every character comes to life with every scene. It is not easy to write about a curmudgeon and have the reader like him. But, this book does just that. A couple of pages into the book and you are already smiling at Ove's eccentricities. You know he is not easy. At the same time, you wouldn't change anything about him. While the ending of the book was quite predictable, I wouldn't have ended it any other way.

The book has many lines, that would just melt your heart. If I start listing them, I'll not stop. You can check them out here.


Verdict: This is a beautiful tale of love, loss, friendships and humanity. A definite must read.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

15 comments:

  1. YAY! I am so glad you loved it. I knew you would. I loved Parvaneh too. I have been trying to see if I can get a signed copy of the book since my cousin lives in Sweden but it seems like a long shot. Waiting to catch the movie with Tom Hanks as Ove. There's already a Swedish version of the film available, I think.

    So much to love about this book. So much, so so so much. I am glad this was one of my reads for 2017.

    Next recommendation: Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman. You will LOVE it and we will discuss it when you are done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for being one of those who pushed me to read this one :)

      Tom Hanks is playing Ove? Wow, that would be quite something. I watched the trailer of the Swedish version and that's not the Ove I had in mind while reading the book. Tom Hanks will ace it, for sure.

      Elanor Oliphant has been on my TBR for a long time now and I will be picking it up soon. And yes, we shall discuss.

      Delete
  2. I had never heard of the book, but watched the movie on Netflix entirely as a hunch. And totally loved it. I watched the Swedish one with English subtitles. I am sure the book is worth every applause.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh you saw the movie first? The book is fabulous as well.

      Delete
  3. I started reading the book in early January but got caught up with my mother's illness and loss. I was thrilled to see your review and this is more impetus for me to get back to reading it Soumya. Thank you. I have heard such wonderful things about this poignant yet funny book, that I pray I do justice to it soon.
    Thanks for a lovely review. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry for you loss again, Natasha. I'm sure she's at peace wherever she is.

      Do read this book, it will cheer you up for sure.

      Delete
  4. Now I have got to read this!!!! Have been literally bombarded by friends on Social Media to pick it up. Will do so soon :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes totally worth it! Please do read it.

      Delete
  5. I read this book a few months ago and found it lovable. I thought Parvaneh was a very important character because she kept pushing Ove around to do things which he wouldn't have done at any cost for anybody. Ove's love for Sonja was sweet. She liked speaking and he liked listening to her, can a relationship be more good than this? Tom Hanks playing Ove's character is news to me and I will wait for the movie to release.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Parvaneh was adorable! Ove's and Sonja's love story was so realistic and down to earth. We hardly see such stories, these days.

      Delete
  6. I loved the book and then watched the movie. Enjoyed the book so much that recommended it to both the kids who read and enjoyed it as well. And then all of us watched the movie and liked that as well. A book that slowly grows on you. So glad that you loved it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, I remember your glowing review as well. I'm waiting for the movie with Tom Hanks, that would be quite something.

      Delete
  7. I loved reading this book. This book made me laugh and cry... and this happened with a book after a long time. I couldnt help but imagine Bill Cosby as Ove all the while I was reading. He isnt the Ove in the movie, it would disappoint me, but I would love to watch this movie as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill Cosby would have been a good Ove too. But Tom Hanks would be quite something else.

      Either way, this book needs to be made into a movie.

      Delete

Care to leave a word or two? Thanks for dropping by :)