Richard and Judy Review: A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman

Richard and Judy Review: A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman

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“The central character – Ove (pronounced Oover as in ‘Mover’) – is utterly recognisable to we British”

Richard’s review

One of the things that makes this story so appealing and wonderfully readable is that even though it is translated from the original Swedish, the central character – Ove (pronounced Oover as in ‘Mover’) – is utterly recognisable to we British. Ove is pompous, self-rightous Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army. Ove is Richard Briars’s crosspatch, pernickety Martin in Ever Decreasing Circles. There is an echo of Victor Meldrew’s angry, despairing ‘I don’t believe it’ from One Foot in the Grave. Across the pond, Ove even has undertones of Kelsey Grammar’s anally fixated psychiatrist, Frasier.

In other words, Ove is intrinsically obsessive, angry, and unwittingly funny.

He is also wise, kind, brave and insightful.

I loved him.

Having said that, when you start reading this book I guarantee that at first you will reckon that Ove is the grumpiest old so-and-so you’ve ever come across. Give him time. He can’t help himself. He’s never quite got over the dastardly plot to kick him out as Chairman of the Residents’ Association. Despite being ousted, Ove still compulsively patrols his neighbourhood’s streets checking that all is as it should be. After all, no-one else can be trusted to ensure the waste bins have been correctly put out, can they? Any more than his neighbours can reverse a trailer properly, or the local authority enforce traffic offences fairly or efficiently. Ove has to be on top of it all. It’s wearisome, but someone has to bear the heavy burden of public service. However unrecognised or unappreciated the task may be.

“He begins to save people.”

Judy’s review

Ove, a widower, is a deeply lonely man. He’s done his best, but at 59 he wants to end it all. He misses his wife so much. But his attempts to join her on the other side keep being thwarted. For reasons yet to be revealed, it seems that Fate wants Ove very much alive.

We learn that his late wife, Sonja, was paralysed in a car crash. The local council was supposed to build a wheelchair ramp for her at the school where she was due to teach, but they refused. Ove, fiercely protective of his partner, was incandescent. Typically, he took matters into his own hands and built the ramp himself.

We begin to get a sense of what Ove is capable of. And then, as the story develops, we realise that he is willing and able to cast himself against type.

A young gay man has been thrown out of the house by his ghastly, homophobic father. Ove offers the boy sanctuary.

An old friend is about to be cast into a home. Ove rescues him.

Gradually we realise that for all his fussiness, disapproval and judgementalism, Ove is capable of life-affirming kindness and understanding. Against all expectations – especially his own – he has the gift of happiness.

You will love this book. It has swept all Europe before it; translation after translation has been met with huge critical approval and massive sales. We are delighted and proud to recommend it to you here. Enjoy.

Press reviews

Here are a selection of the reviews for A Man Called Ove

“A tale that tugs on the heart strings”

The Independent

“One man’s heroic decency in the face of death and disaster is the most uplifting novels of the year”

Express

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