A Man Called Ove
By: Fredrick Backman
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots – neighbours who can’t reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d’etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents’ Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.
But isn’t it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so?
In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible…
I had heard about this book in passing but never thought to really check it out until more recently. Ove sounds like quite the character and while by the premise alone, I had an inkling which way the story would go, I was nonetheless intrigued to read it and see for myself.
Well, A Man Called Ove was a very interesting read. I thought it was amusing how the chapters all started off with “A Man Called Ove […]” which really sets the tone of the story xD The chapters, whilst not standalones as the instances do tie in together to propel the narrative forward in how Ove’s life changes the more he interacts with the people around him, they can nonetheless work as vignettes, whether it be Ove facing off with a sales associate at Apple or teaching a neighbour how to drive. Also, as the story progresses the narrative starts going back and forth between Ove’s upbringing and his life before the events of the novel and the present narrative. It certainly keeps things interesting but it provides a lot of backstory not only to Ove’s life but also to his relationship with some of the people in his neighbourhood. The highlight here of course is the character of Ove himself. On the surface he comes across as quite the cantankerous old man who complains about everything and is a stickler for things being done a certain way (or the good ol’ way). He says what he thinks and isn’t fond of very many people. Once you learn more about him though,
you realise he’s a deeply principled man who has a particular way of living and who’s grounded in practical matters. His story with his wife Sonja was also quite wonderful. As one character pointed out, you won’t find very many people like Ove in this day and age. And yet despite of his cranky and grumpy nature, through his actions and interactions with other people over the course of the novel–and people reaching out to him, for that matter–it’s funny to see how he goes from a very solitary individual to this person surrounded by people who care for him and look out for him.
Overall A Man Called Ove was an interesting read that more or less had me glued from the first page. Ove is a fascinating character with much more depth that his grumpiness may encompass (heck, even at times I was getting a bit ruffled by his grumpiness!) and the people he helps along the way are quite the cast from various backgrounds and life situations. But Ove is a man who never gives up and always stands his ground so in a way he’s also quite an admirable character. I didn’t quite get weepy towards the end but I was quite moved because I had come to love all of the characters at the end. So yeah, definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a contemporary title to read!
Also, there’s a cat in this book that’s really cute in his own I-stick-around sort of way xD