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Britt-Marie Was Here

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The number one bestseller: a funny, poignant and uplifting tale of love, community, and second chances

For as long as anyone can remember, Britt-Marie has been an acquired taste. It's not that she's judgemental, or fussy, or difficult - she just expects things to be done in a certain way. A cutlery drawer should be arranged in the right order, for example (forks, knives, then spoons). We're not animals, are we?

But behind the passive-aggressive, socially awkward, absurdly pedantic busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams and a warmer heart than anyone around her realizes.

So when Britt-Marie finds herself unemployed, separated from her husband of 20 years, left to fend for herself in the miserable provincial backwater that is Borg - of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it - and somehow tasked with running the local football team, she is a little unprepared. But she will learn that life may have more to offer her that she's ever realised, and love might be found in the most unexpected of places.

'Impressive and heart-warming . . . there are unexpected delights to being stuck with Britt-Marie' Literary Review

304 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 3, 2014

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About the author

Fredrik Backman

29 books65.4k followers
Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. Things My Son Needs to Know About the World, his first work of non-fiction, will be released in the US in May 2019. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Twitter @BackmanLand or on Instagram @backmansk.

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5 stars
54,117 (35%)
4 stars
66,044 (43%)
3 stars
26,892 (17%)
2 stars
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1 star
1,450 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 17,539 reviews
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,713 reviews25k followers
February 7, 2017
I am very late to the party for this book and when I saw this in the library, I remembered how so many of my goodreads friends had read and loved this. This is a terrific tale of Britt-Marie who is 63, and who we meet as she tries to get a job because she is afraid no one will notice if she were to die, she keenly feels her isolation and loneliness. It quickly becomes clear that something is wrong from her OCD issues surrounding her manic cleaning and the manner in which she pins down her employment advisor by cooking her dinner. Her perfect world revolves around her husband, Kent, who it becomes clear has been taking her for granted and having an affair. She hasn't been working for years, being a housewife and bringing up Kent's children. She is no longer with Kent and it is going to take her some time to adjust to her new situation.

Britt=Marie finds herself in Borg, with a temporary job as a caretaker of a recreation centre. Borg is a dying town, where everything is closing down. After a few comic setbacks, and the introduction of a great set of characters, Britt-Marie finds herself being the football coach to the children, that include Vega and Omar. There is romantic interest from Sven, the policeman. She gets closer to Sami, who is doing all that he can to look after his siblings. Before you know it, Britt=Marie is opening up, slowly beginning to live life, and is needed, particularly when things take a tragic turn.

A lovely heartwarming, and humorous tale that snags your heartstrings for the broken Britt-Marie who lands in the broken and dying town of Borg. Each needs the other, they complement each other perfectly and both learn to survive despite the numerous obstacles in their paths. This is my first Fredrik Backman novel and I was completely charmed and bowled over by it. Highly recommended and brilliant read.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews611 followers
November 3, 2019
"If Kent had been here"......
Throughout this charming-tender-story, *Britt-Marie*, often reflects on her husband, Kent, who she walked out on after 40 years of marriage. She lands a job working as a caretaker at a recreation center, 12 miles away from where she and Kent lived, in a small run-down village. How she got the job is hilarious. Laugh-out-loud funny!
Yet, when Britt-Marie says she misses her balcony, back home, more than anything, it was an early clue to me, that there was some deeper loss...and I wanted to find out what that was.
At age 63, newly separated housewife, Britt-Marie, ( a woman who turns to cleaning as her 'vice-of-choice', as her 'coping-solution'-means), can be a stubborn, outspoken, an old 'fuddy-fart', with judgements, and rules for how everyone should be.
Stepping into the driver seat of her own life, without the safety belt of her husband,
Britt-Marie is determined she can make it on her own. Her involvement with the kids and soccer brings her purpose, joy, and friendships, that are deeply moving.
A rat....a snicker bar......baking soda......Faxin.... soccer.....wonderful quirky kids and town folks will have you laughing - and crying.
You'll also be wanting to know...what choice is Britt-Marie going to make with her life...as if the end result is what is important. But is it????

Fredrick Backman is a 'one-of-a-kind' writer. Clever...and wise!!!! I loved many
sections of his dialogue. His phrases are the heartstrings that tie this entire story together. Through Britt-Marie's journey and the people she meets, I thought about authentic friendships --the importance of giving and receiving....a little like a fair game of soccer?/! Great analogies to think like in all of Backman's novels.

Thank You Atria Books, Netgalley, and Fredrick Backman. ( as long as he keeps writing books --I'm going to read them!!!)
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,536 reviews9,960 followers
November 2, 2016
This book was freaking amazing! And yeah, it made me cry . . .


I thought his book was wonderfully, sad. I loved Britt-Marie so much. She had these quirks that were in ways sad and in others beautiful. I would love to meet her, God would she give me a mouthful. lol *Possibly one mild spoiler*

She just tells it like it is:

"You have a very modern hairstyle."
"What? Oh. Thanks," she replies, her fingertips moving self-consciously towards her scalp.
"It's very courageous of you to wear your hair so short when you have such a large forehead."


Britt-Marie wakes up on the floor. Somebody is leaning over her, saying something, but Britt-Marie's first thoughts are about the floor. She's worried that it may be dirty, and that people might think she's dead. These things happen all the time, people falling over and dying. It would be horrific, thinks Britt-Marie. To die on a dirty floor. What would people think?

"Hello, lady? Are you, you know, what's it called? Deceased?" Somebody asks, but Britt-Marie keeps focusing on the floor.

"Hello, lady? Are you, you know, dead?" Somebody repeats and makes a little whistling sound.

Britt-Marie dislikes whistling, ans she has a headache.
The floor smells of pizza. It would be awful to die with a headache while smelling of pizza.

I mean she just thinks the craziest and funniest things. Anyway, as you can read from the description, Britt-Marie decides to finally leave her husband Kent, for reasons. She goes to the unemployment office, gives them hell in her way, and proceeds to get a job in Borg. This town is in a place that's pretty much dried up and been left. She's hired to work at the recreation center until they close it up in a few weeks time.

Britt-Marie meets some wonderful characters upon arriving. She doesn't think they are so wonderful until later on. I mean she meets a rat (who later becomes her friend that she feeds nightly), thinks her car has blown up and gets hit in the head with a soccer ball. This all coming at a woman that stopped leaving the house because she just stayed and took care of things and cleaned all of the time.

Let me tell you. She should have gotten a job as a maid. Your house would never be the same again. I would hire her in a heartbeat!

The book is so moving and heartfelt. Yes, it's full of funny stuff, like Britt-Marie being turned into the children's soccer coach when she has no idea what she's doing. Her cleaning people's things until they just finally let her get on with it. But there is something else. She starts to care for these people and they care for her. She finds a place in the little community where people are just trying to survive and help each other the best they can. Although, there are some really tough lessons in the book, tough times for children, and some things so heartbreaking I can't even put it into words.

Britt-Marie also takes a little liking to the town sheriff, Sven, and him to her. Nothing ever really comes of it as. . . well it's Britt-Marie and stuff happens. I was actually hoping the ending was going to be different but I think the way it did end, was perfect for Britt-Marie's journey. It was just so happy/sad! It breaks my heart and I love all of the people in the book. I'm not going to say any more because you really need to read the book and meet these people for yourself.

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,308 reviews2,191 followers
December 19, 2018

Over the last few years I have read and loved Fredrik Backman’s novels, but I hesitated to read this one because Britt-Marie wasn’t very likable in her brief appearance in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry. But then I remembered that I didn’t like Ove very much either in A Man Called Ove until I got to know him and understood his past. I thought it was time to give Britt-Marie a chance and I’m glad I did.

She’s OCD and her husband Kent said that she’s “socially incompetent”. She has her quirks about cleaning and about the order of the silverware drawer and she has no qualms with telling you just what she thinks. She suddenly finds herself alone, divorced from a cheating husband after decades. I couldn’t help but wonder how she managed to stay in this marriage for so long. How long had she deceived herself into thinking it was a good marriage ? Perhaps because of her personality, her dependence on her husband Kent. Her loneliness is heartbreaking. “She misses her balcony more than anything. You’re never quite alone when you can stand on a balcony—you have all the cars and houses and the people in the streets. You’re among them, but also not.” She was lonely even before they split up and probably longer than that. Britt-Marie worries now that she lives alone and thinks about an article in the paper about a woman found dead in her home. “She had never children and no husband and no job. No one knew she was there. If one has a job, people notice if one doesn’t show up.”

So she takes a temporary job in a town called Borg, that is dying as a result of the failing economy and becomes the caretaker of a community center. The center has to serve as so many things because so much has closed - the pizzeria, a bar, a minimart, and more . There’s not much left except the soccer team and a few stalwarts who don’t want to give up. Before we know it, Britt-Marie becomes the soccer coach and so much more to a cast of quirky characters. She becomes their friend and they become hers and they give more to each other than any of them would have expected. It’s all at once funny and sad and uplifting. The initially unlikable Britt-Marie becomes one of Backman’s lovable characters.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,116 followers
May 8, 2019
"One morning you wake up with more life behind you than in front of you, not being able to understand how it's happened."

Aw, I loved this! This was my third Backman novel (Beartown and Us Against You being the first two)
Britt-Marie is looking for a job, her first job in 60 years. After divorcing her husband, Britt-Marie is alone, with no friends, no children of her own - and she worries she will die alone and no one would be any the wiser. Hence a new job!
Unfortunately due to her lack of experience the only vacancy offered to her is the caretaker of a recreation centre in a tiny village that has been hit hard by the financial crisis.
Her arrival creates a bit of a stir in the town. Nearly every other business has been closed down - the post office, mechanics, supermarket etc. The one remaining business serves as everything in one - selling anything from pizza and coffee to window cleaner and car parts.

Britt-Marie is a very strange character. She has some obsessive traits, particularly regarding her cleaning methods and her rules on manners. She does take a while to get used to, but once you do, we find she is a wonderful character with a huge heart. As she befriends the locals, and becomes the captain of the children's football team, she is embedded in Borg, and they couldn't imagine life without her.

Overall, this was an uplifting story - just what I needed; but of course with a sharp shock which we would come to expect from Backman.

4 stars

"People want someone to know they are here."
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,363 followers
July 11, 2016
3+ stars. I loved Fredrik Backman's first two books, so I went to some lengths to get a copy of his third book, Britt-Marie Was Here. I begged shamelessly on a couple of sites for advance copies. When that didn't work, I found a copy while on a trip to New York because the book was not yet available in Canada. The problem with high anticipation is that it can sometimes breed disappointment. I liked Britt-Marie Was Here, but I didn't love it the same way I loved its predecessors. Unfortunately, it feels like Backman developed a bit of formula in A Man Called Ove, and Britt-Marie Was Here followed that formula without any original deviations. Britt-Marie is not a bad person, but she is very rigid in her devotion to cleanliness and order. When her marriage falls apart, she moves to a tiny dying town where she is employed as a caretaker in a community centre. There are many scenes involving misunderstandings between Britt-Marie and the town's people. Over time, they get to know and appreciate each other, and are ultimately transformed by each other. Overall, the tone is light, but there are a few events -- especially at the end -- that are more dramatic. Backman is good at the details, and this is what saved the book for me. Britt-Marie's relationship with a group of children, soccer, a rat and alcohol are the details that give life to the story. But still I didn't find myself as wowed or engaged as with Backman's last two books. I suspect that I would have liked this one more if it had been my first Backman book. I hope Backman brings a bit more originality to the narrative structure of his next book -- regardless, I suspect that I will chase it yet again.
Profile Image for Candi.
623 reviews4,717 followers
June 21, 2017
"There’s a lot you can’t know about a person until you become one with her. What her capabilities are. The courage she has."

I first met Britt-Marie in Backman’s novel My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. She wasn’t exactly loveable in that book, so I was prepared to meet yet another grumpy and somewhat eccentric character in this one. Well, she was just as I imagined she would be! While I thought perhaps I wasn’t going to be inclined to read an entire book about her royal crankypants, my sentiments quickly reversed. What first caught my attention was the humor, despite my qualms about Britt-Marie. Then I slowly began to realize what makes this woman tick - I started to look at the world from her point of view. I came to an understanding; I even nodded my head in agreement at some of her observations. "Britt-Marie can’t for the life of her understand why anyone would choose to practice an outdoor sport while wearing white jerseys. It’s barbaric." I know, right?!! I don’t know how many bottles of Advanced Shout I’ve gone through since my kids began to play soccer! Eventually, I was sucked into the story and wanted to make friends with Britt-Marie.

At the age of sixty-three, Britt-Marie is on her own. She has left behind a cheating husband and is in search of employment for the first time in decades. Arriving in the run-down town of Borg, she may not really be making a step in the right direction. After all, how can one gain a sense of independence when there are very few opportunities and the economy has shut down the majority of the businesses in town? "… the only two noticeable things in Borg are soccer and the pizzeria, because these tend to be the last things to abandon humanity." Here she meets a zany cast of characters (even a rat!) and learns more than she ever fancied about the game of soccer. As the children rally around her, Britt-Marie finds herself in charge of the motley crew that call themselves a team. Then, what began as a light-hearted story turns into a truly heartwarming tale about what it means to stand together despite all odds, learning to forge friendships in the most unlikely places. Fredrik Backman manages to create such endearing characters; ones that won’t soon be forgotten. I have two more of his novels to go, and hope he has many more yet to follow.

"She wonders how much space a person has left in her soul to change herself, once she gets older. What people does she still have to meet, what will they see in her, and what will they make her see in herself?"
Profile Image for Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️.
1,862 reviews30.1k followers
August 13, 2019
4 Faxin Stars

This was my first ever Fredrik Backman book.
And I absolutely loved Backman's writing style.
I loved the story.
I loved all the supporting characters...
and I REALLY loved Britt-Marie.

"At a certain age almost all the questions a person asks him or herself are really just about one thing: how should you live your life?

But really, how should we?
Something to think about.
Something this book definitely made me think about.
Profile Image for Liz.
2,147 reviews2,764 followers
June 28, 2017
Those of you who have read My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She's Sorry, will remember Britt-Marie. For those of you who have not yet read it, I advise reading it first. That book gives you the background of Britt-Marie while she was still married.

This book starts off with her looking for a job. She hasn't worked in years. She's been a devoted wife, giving over her entire life to Kent. But Kent hasn't appreciated her brand of obsessive loyalty and has had an affair and she has left him. Britt-Marie is a weird bird. She's socially awkward, more than a little obsessIve on how things should be done and totally tactless. But you grow to love her. Likewise the other characters. Somebody is especially hilarious. She's the town’s jack of all trades, the fixer, the one who gets things done as long as you aren't too particular about how.

Backman has the ability to capture the feel of a place with very few words. Borg is a town where almost everything has closed down. “The only two noticeable things in Borg are soccer and the pizzeria, because these tend to be the last things to abandon humanity.”

This book will have you laughing and crying, sometimes at the same time.

Another wonderful book by Backman. Highly recommend.

Profile Image for Dem.
1,190 reviews1,132 followers
December 31, 2017
Described on the blurb as a " Brilliant mix of belly-laughs, Insightful and touching I was really looking forward to my 4th Novel my Fredrick Blackman having recently read and loved Beartown but unfortunatly Britt-Marie was a real let down as on completion I found it neither witty or touching and am afraid this book was quite twee and dull in my opinion.

I didnt connect with Britt-Marie as a fussy passive aggressive busybody and while I know other readers might connect or empathize with her I just found the story bizarre and far fetched and found myself disliking quite a lot about this book and on completion this one is going in my newly created Dull Shelf. Some of the conversations in the novel left me annoyed and bewildered as the characters actions and conversations rarely made sense and the humor was totally lost on me.

I think having read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and found it fun, touching and insightful, "Britt Marie was here". just paled in comparrison and therefore a disappointing read for me.
Profile Image for Christina Loeffler.
143 reviews17.3k followers
July 15, 2018
4, no I'm not ugly crying and laughing at the same time, I swear I'm not crazy stars.

This is my first Backman novel (I know, I'm behind the times) and to be honest, I was unsure how I was going to feel about this for the first couple of chapters. I actually genuinely liked Britt-Marie right off the bat but I wasn't in a particular mood for something depressing and it felt like that might be the direction this was going to take. I'm very happy to say, I was very wrong in this case.

This is about Britt-Marie, a 63-year-old divorcee, seemingly starting her life over. She finds a new job in a disintegrating town called Borg. She is exceptionally neurotic, she has many rules she believes one should live by and calling her "quirky" is putting it quite mildly. However, Britt-Marie is also incredibly strong-willed and determined. She has lived her life patently unappreciated by her husband Kent - he took no notice of her cleaning, her superior use of baking soda or the importance of a properly made bed *same tho*, to the point of being wholly unnoticed.

“She wonders how much space a person has left in her soul to change herself, once she gets older. What people does she still have to meet, what will they see in her, and what will they make her see in herself?"

As it turns out, there is a lot of space left in Britt-Marie's soul to change, to grow and to become someone she's always wanted to be. This is about finding yourself again, about personal growth, about being passionate about your life. Backman has an exceptional command of language, an ability to wield words in the most useful way to tell whatever part of the story he needs to. Everything is concise and to the point but it is done in a way that doesn't sacrifice emotion or detail.

In the end, this was actually an incredibly ordinary story but Backman found a way to show the beauty in that. Life, for the most part, is fairly ordinary with a few extraordinary moments sprinkled in and we have to find the beauty in that ourselves. This was a happy, refreshing and unexpected read about friendship, hope and standing together. I think it's worth picking up for Backman's writing alone but I enjoyed Britt-Marie and I think most of us could find a little bit of ourselves in her as well. Keep on doin' you girl, you're good just the way you are.

“All passion is childish. It's banal and naive. It's nothing we learn; it's instinctive, and so it overwhelms us. Overturns us. It bears us away in a flood. All other emotions belong to earth, but passion inhabits the universe.
That is the reason why passion is worth something, not for what it gives us but for what it demands we risk. Our dignity. The puzzlement of others and their condescending, shaking heads”

If you're asking yourself "do I really want to read a book about a neurotic 63-year-old woman finding herself?" the answer is a resounding hell yes you do.
Profile Image for da AL.
371 reviews373 followers
January 30, 2018
Backman is expert at making me fall in love with his characters -- annoying on the outside, utterly charming on the inside. His better-known book, "A Man Called Ove," has more straightforwardly good and bad characters that are easier to like and dislike, then ending a crowd pleaser. Here he takes on the monumental challenge of nuance -- characters which are both good and bad, endings that are not pat -- & he does admirably.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,168 reviews37.3k followers
February 13, 2017
Britt-Marie was Here is the best book I've read this year. Simply put, it is fantastic.

Britt-Marie is difficult, frustrating and socially awkward. She is also insensitive and kind of rude. A minor character in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, Britt-Marie was instantly disliked in that book and is not well liked in the beginning of this one either. However, Fredrik Backman has this endearing way of making old curmudgeons likeable and being extremely successful at it (i.e. Ove and Britt-Marie). Her character, her ocd, her social ineptitude.. they grow on you. Here, we find out why she is the way she is and we discover that, due to her childhood and her marriage, she has felt invisible her whole life. She has trouble figuring out who she really is and is fanatical simply because it is the only thing she can control. Upon losing everything, she decides to find a job and is forced to move to a small town. In the process she finds a sense of humor, discovers that she is capable of making friends and also finds her sense of self.

Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove was one of my favorite books ever. His writing style is smart, funny, quirky and just downright amazing. His characters are rich, well developed and beloved. In addition to Britt-Marie, Vega, Somebody, Bank, Sami and "the girl from the unemployment office" lent heart and soul to the story and gave Britt-Marie exactly what she needed: friends and reasons to go have at it.

I didn't think it was possible for Mr. Backman to write another book that I'd love as much as "Ove" but if truth be told, I love this one more. It was truly phenomenal.
Profile Image for Christine.
596 reviews1,179 followers
November 4, 2019
Having really enjoyed My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Britt-Marie Was Here. Britt-Marie did not come across as very likeable in the former novel, but by the end of the book I had a better understanding of her. I loved her in in Britt-Marie Was Here.

Britt-Marie is a strange duck. She is repressed and socially inept (understatement). She has OCD traits and miserable self-esteem. At age 63, she suddenly finds herself on her own in a teeny little town in Sweden. How can she possibly survive?

It amazes me how such a simply written novel could be so moving and inspirational. It even drew out the tears. This book is not action-filled. Like the other Backman book I read, it is a character study, a slice of life, and a story full of introspection on the part of the protagonist. There is quirkiness, whimsy, and humor, as well as wisdom, insight, and life lessons to be learned.

The cast of characters is priceless. I was especially fond of Vera, Sami, Somebody, Sven, Bank, and the rat. Each one plays an important role in Britt-Marie’s journey to come back to herself.

I was not totally cool with the ambiguous ending, but no stars are lost as the ambiguous ending is beautifully ambiguous and touched my heart. But dang-- where is my epilogue???

This is a sweet, heartfelt story. I recommend it for everyone not looking for heavy action or a super complex plot. The book may be even more enjoyable if one reads My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry first. Britt-Marie and her husband Kent are featured in that book as well.

Now on to Ove once my number comes up at the library!
Profile Image for James.
Author 20 books3,727 followers
August 12, 2022
Author Fredrik Backman is in my TOP 5 writers of all time. I've read 4 of his books now, and they always have a profound impact on me. I'm hoping to finish reading them all this year which is why Britt-Marie Was Here made it to my September TBR. If you're familiar with his work, it's a combination of 'A Man Called Ove' and 'Beartown' in terms of the love of sport, the human condition's intensity, and the desire for a different life. All in all, I gave it 4.25 stars as it was better than a 4 but I couldn't round up to a 5 on this one...

Britt-Marie is in her early 60s and has left her husband, Kent, after she caught him cheating on her via the other woman taking him to the hospital as he had a heart attack. Although she's independent, Britt-Marie has been cared for too long by others to know exactly how to survive on her own. She succeeds on many levels when she moves to a town, Borg, not too far away from home to get her first outside-of-the-home job since she was a waitress right after high school and right before marrying Kent. In Borg, life is basically listless, scarce, and penniless. It's been hit by a financial crisis and no one has money for anything. Britt-Marie does her best to find a way to make the move to a new job and a new residence something positive, but it doesn't go very smoothly at first. In time, she evolves into a more open-minded individual, yet her core beliefs remain stalwart. She's ornery but lovable, kind but too direct, thoughtful but not very worldly. It makes her human like the rest of us.

Backman's style is usually on-point when it comes to connecting with his readers. This book is no exception; however, there were several sections with either translation issues (it wasn't originally written in English) or a purposed attempt to write in a different manner from what he's shown us before. Examples include frequent repetition of words or phrases that it became too obvious. Was it intended or just the translation -- I'm not certain, but it caused me to stumble a fair number of times. Another concern was a general casualization (yep, I'm making up words) of some characters where I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to root for them or ignore them. The end result was some felt too similar while others felt strong but underused given their purpose in the story.

That said, the rest is amazing. I felt the connection between Britt-Marie and everyone she meets who changes her life. I saw the lackluster relationship with Kent but understood why she couldn't leave him. I felt the pain of what her childhood resulted in when it came to how she viewed herself and let others view her. I adored the way she persistently nagged the unemployment office employee only to become the woman's bright hope for the future. It's only when an author is an innate talent can these types of well-embedded structures, depths, and life perceptions be truly integrated into a story. That's where, how, and why Backman leads the race when it comes to producing truly remarkable stories.
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
506 reviews1,488 followers
December 17, 2016
My inauguration into the world of Backman.
I wasn't sure about it for the first 50 pages thinking this character is whacked and do I really want to read about a 64 year old woman who is only just finding herself after years of repression? It turned out, yes I do.

Britt-Marie is a hot mess. She's left her husband - which was well overdue- but is lost in a world nonexistent to others. She's never worked outside of the home and she has cleaning OCD. She's really odd - her thoughts; her behaviours.
She takes a job in Borg - a village dying with businesses closing up but here ironically, is where her life begins.
What a quirky character. Backman's style took a little getting used to - I can see why some readers may have not been riveted. I'm not sure I would have picked this one up if I'd read his others - which I plan on doing. While it did keep my interest, I felt it was just skimming the surface. As for the ending, I don't like coming to my own conclusions.
3* as Britt is a memorable character.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,174 reviews8,391 followers
May 14, 2016
The publisher sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

You guys. You GUYS! This was one of the sweetest books I have ever read. After reading Fredrik Backman's first novel A Man Called Ove earlier this year, I was contacted by the publisher to read & review his latest release, Britt-Marie Was Here. Even though I wasn't obsessed with A Man Called Ove, I thought it was incredibly quirky, funny and touching, so I figured I would give this one a shot.

And I'm so glad I did. I liked it even more than I expected to. It's a heartwarming story about Britt-Marie, a rather particular elderly woman who finds herself thrust into a new situation in life. She moves to a new town, gets a job and makes new friends in unlikely ways. Even though the theme of our impact on each other's lives is explore often in literature, it's one of my favorites and always such a great reminder. And this story totally did it justice.

If you're looking for something that will make you laugh, cry and come out on the other side with a bit more optimism, I would definitely recommend this book. I can't wait to check out Backman's other novel, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Profile Image for Lori.
371 reviews439 followers
February 23, 2020
Ha, I loved it. It has the generous spirit and humor of "A Man Called Ove" and the heart-tugging emotion that sneaks up on you -- so powerfully employed in "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry" -- that's Backman's signature. His repetitive, deceptively simplistic style holds within it a world of love and sorrow. His ability to move the reader is extraordinary.

The first few chapters of "Britt-Marie" are slow going. It's wonderful seeing her in a wholly new situation, adapting to circumstances beyond her limited imagination. It takes a little while to get a handle on the town of Borg and its quirky inhabitants. That's because Borg is an unusual place and because Britt-Marie is wary of each new person and every new situation. Once the book gets going it hits notes high and low with the precision of a soccer ball hitting a soda can. I laughed, I cried, I rooted for Britt-Marie and the quirky inhabitants of Borg all the way through the unexpected, and perfect, ending.

I'm in awe of Fredrik Backman, whose novels are fresh and original, funny and full of heart. He gets us to love his characters via their tics and faults, not despite them. Ha. I can't wait for his fourth novel.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,079 reviews59k followers
January 6, 2017
Brit-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman is a 2016 Atria Books publication.

Believe it or not, this is my first novel by this author! I’ve heard so many wonderful things about his novels and can’t think of a better way to start off 2017 than by finally joining the Fredrik Backman club!

Brit-Marie was Here is just an all around wonderful story! I laughed, got angry, worried, and cried, but closed the book feeling like I’d been on a special journey with Britt-Marie in her quest for purpose, belonging and overdue self-discovery.

This novel is delightful and very quirky, with oddball characters, and situations, but underneath the humor there is an underlying seriousness, which explores relationships, loneliness, the desire to be needed and loved, appreciated, to make a real difference, and to matter to someone.

Britt-Marie is not exactly the warmest person in the world when we first meet her, but I still liked her. I knew immediately that she had OCD, which explains a great deal, but she’s also socially awkward.

She’s devoted her entire life to her husband, Kent, finding pleasure… or was it release? In keeping her house tidy, enjoying her balcony, and raising Kent’s children. She has no friendships, and everything in her life is orderly, clean, and on a perfectly timed schedule, until…

Britt-Marie discovers her beloved Kent is having an affair. She simply walks away without a word. She begins looking for a job at the age of sixty-three, with no formal education and no work experience, in an economic down period.

However, she does manage to find temporary work at a recreation center, that is about to be shut down, in the small hamlet of ‘Borg’. This job, the town, and its residents will slowly draw Britt-Marie out of her shell, and will enrich her life via a string of wild adventures and through the game of soccer, a sport she initially resented and despised.

This book is so adorable and sweet!!

There are so many poignant elements, themes, and life lessons to explore and think about. The characters are so well drawn, the language and prose is near perfect, as is the pacing and the hysterically funny, yet touching, razor sharp dialogue.

Britt-Marie is a character I will remember for a long time to come and am so happy I was able to meet her and experience her awakening and personal growth. I hope we can touch base with her again someday!!

4 stars
Profile Image for Jessica J..
1,027 reviews2,048 followers
March 30, 2016
I feel like the jerkiest of jerks here, but I was honestly just kind of bored with this one. If you liked Backman's A Man Called Ove, there's a good chance that you will like this one, too. It feels very familiar, with its tale of a stubborn senior citizen won over and softened by the bigger world. In my Ove review, I commented that Backman toed the line of treacly without falling completely in. Maybe he finally fell; I think that reading another book that was so similar thematically was just too much saccharine for me. Britt-Marie was fine, but I felt like I was reading something I'd already gone through before and I found myself struggling to engage. Because I'm a jerk.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,328 reviews2,146 followers
June 6, 2018
Another book by Fredrik Backman which I find I cannot rate as highly as most people are doing. Perhaps he is just not the author for me. There was a lot to enjoy in this book, but there were also things which I felt did not work.

My biggest disappointment was with Britt-Marie herself. It was as though the author gave her characteristics, dialogue and a back story designed to provide pathos, humour and quirkiness but forgot to meld them into the one person. She was a conglomerate of separate parts and I could not believe in the whole. How could someone so helpless that she disappeared entirely for decades in the shadow of her husband suddenly find the gumption to walk out the way she does? Why would everyone she meets instantly like her when she is so rude and socially inept?

I struggled with the first part of the story but then got caught up in the characters and was really enjoying it. And then came the very long drawn out and totally uninformative ending. It was such an anticlimax and I still do not really know what happened. If any of my Goodreads friends are reading this who did understand please pm me and let me know.

Overall three stars because I did enjoy the story, Britt-Marie was frequently funny,several of the other characters were really well drawn and the author does write nicely.
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday .
2,051 reviews2,105 followers
July 1, 2016
An intriguing read. I would not call it hilarious, but it was certainly humorous and heart-warming.

'If you merely drive through Borg its easy to notice only the places that have been closed down. You have to slow down to see what's still there. There are people in Borg. There are rats and Zimmer-frames and greenhouses. Wooden fences and white jerseys and lit candles. Newly laid turf and sunny stories.'

This is no doubt true of many small towns around the world, but Borg is the unlikely place where Britt-Marie (only her deceased sister was ever allowed to call her Britt) finds herself after her marriage disintegrates. More than a little OCD, Britt-Marie judges people by their cutlery drawers and is obsessed with Bicarb of Soda and Faxin window-cleaner. She has precise and regimented ways of doing things "after all, we're not animals, are we?"

For the fastidious Britt-Marie, this new world of noisy children, muddy floors, and a roommate who is a rat (literally), is a hard adjustment. And she finds herself doing things she never would have believed she would do, and befriending and being befriended by people she would never have associated with in the past. And then she has to make a choice....

I could see a little of myself in Britt-Marie at times, there is probably a little of her in most of us.

She left me smiling, and curious to see where her next adventure will take her.

Thank you Glenda Henry for this precious birthday present.
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,178 reviews532 followers
July 30, 2016
Britt-Marie was sort of a married woman. Sort of. If it wasn't for her husband's heart attack while being with his mistress, Britt-Marie might still have been happily locked away in her forty-year-old marriage, where she loved her balcony and her total dedication to her husband. She had no friends, did not go outside her apartment, and never questioned her needy behavior. As long as her husband was completely depended on her mothering skills, she was happy. Life was under control. Sort of.

It was very important that her cutlery drawer was perfectly organized, forks, knives, spoons, and everything cleaned everyday with vinegar and baking soda and only Faxin for the windows. Coffee in plastic mugs and plastic teaspoons had the same value as roadkill in her book. Tables without coasters were so animalistic. Everyday had its penciled-in list. Nothing happened without it. Everything on it happened. Non-negotiable. She ate her cold dinner at exactly six o'clock in the evening. Civilized people do that. Her balcony was astonishingly, astonishingly presentable. Her own special space. She laughed inward. Always. Not a sound was heard on the outside.

After forty years of being a housewife and completing hundreds of crosswords, she regarded herself as a highly educated person and did not think it would be difficult to find a job as a sixty-three-year-old woman. Her husband, Kent, said the economic recession was over. How difficult could it be?

As a young girl she was in an accident in which her sister died. Her parents hardly knew that Britt-Marie stayed alive. They slowly died themselves, leaving her, the unimportant child, behind. But the accident also changed Britt-Marie's behavior, leaving her with almost a lite form of Asperger's or Autism syndrome. Her life needed to be strictly structured and her obsessive compulsive tendencies prevented her from being socially adaptable. Soccer was an enemy. It was Kent's only passion in life, apart from being married to his entrepreneurial business and his mistress.

In her solo world she just took off, leaving Kent to find his clothes and shaving utensils after she rearranged it. No she did not hide it. She applied for jobs at a job seeking agency and coincidentally found one as a caretaker of a community center in the dying town, Borg.

It was a community built along the road, and that was the kindest thing one can say about it. There was a closed-down chemist, a closed-down soccer field, a closed-down school, a closed-down health center, a closed-down supermarket, and a road that bears away in two different directions ...

Kent was not there anymore. And Kent was wrong about the economic recession. Her safety net was gone. A coffee machine became a thread which she had to attack. Only Kent made the coffee at home. But, as she stopped in front of her new building, her car exploded, ka-boom, ... and a soccer ball hit her on the head ... It was the beginning of the rest of her life. Borg and Britt-Marie would never be the same again.

As the two previous books, this was a really good read. I enjoyed the first book 'A Man Called Ove' the most by far. The second book, 'My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You She's Sorry' also charmed me further into the writings of this author. I laughed and cried for Britt-Marie and her new town. I was captured in the ambiance of the pizziera cum post office cum hairdresser saloon cum car repair shop with the characters filing its spaces on a daily basis. Even that rat without-a-name, became lovable. Pathos reigned. It was impossible to not feel the strong deeper undercurrents of bonding keeping the town going in difficult times. In the end I did not know if I wanted to laugh or cry. It was not that simple after all.

Frederik Backman has a Pandora's box filled with intricate souls he blows life into when he presents them as protagonists in his books to his now addicted readers. He knows we cannot live without them! Let the next book be here soon, please.

I absolutely loved this book.

Profile Image for Cheri.
1,799 reviews2,392 followers
May 22, 2016
Britt-Marie is the sort of person who likes things just so. She can’t abide a disorganized cutlery drawer, being offered “milk” in tiny disposable cartons, plastic mugs, plastic teaspoons. She is, if nothing else, fastidious.

“’Milk and Sugar?’ the girl asks, pouring some coffee into a plastic mug. Britt-Marie doesn’t judge anyone. Far from it. But who would behave like that? A plastic mug! Are we at war?”

Britt-Marie begins this journey as a 63-year old woman who has just moved out of her flat with her husband, Kent, and begins a new life working in a village that has very little, in terms of modern conveniences, to offer. It’s a community on the verge of non-existence in a place her mother would have described as “the back of beyond.” The few people and shops left are taking on additional responsibilities, the pizzeria serving multiple roles as other places close.

In her new role as caretaker of the recreation center, Britt-Marie finds herself slowing finding herself warming up to the residents of Borg, The young people have little to do except play soccer, and as she warms up to a few select residents (including a rat), the residents begin to involve her in their lives, their worries, as they begin to open themselves to her, she begins to feel more “at home.” Still, there is Kent in the back of her mind, her philandering husband who she has spent most of her life taking care of. Now, she must take care of herself, she must be in charge of herself and her life. Her new life.

“The reason for her love of maps. It’s half worn away, the dot, and the red color is bleached. Yet it’s there, flung down there on the map halfway between the lower left corner and its center, and next to it is written, 'You are here.' Sometimes it’s easier to go on living, not even knowing who you are, when at least you know precisely where you are while you go on not knowing.”

With so many years of life with Kent behind her, she is still often torn between her old life, its comforts and routines, and this new life where virtually everything is new for Britt-Marie, new friends, new routines, new feelings. She has a new purpose, a newfound joy in herself, and her new friends, in this new community where she has made her home. She feels needed, she no longer feels invisible.

“At a certain age almost all the questions a person asks him or herself are really just about one thing: How should you live your life?”

Fredrik Backman has written yet another captivating story with terrific characters that are easy to give your heart to. If you read “A Man Called Ove” and / or “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” and enjoyed them, this is a must read. If you haven’t read his former novels, “Britt-Marie Was Here” can be enjoyed for its own merits.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,157 followers
November 5, 2016
3.5 Stars

"You are not alone if someone needs you."

Backman does it again....creates a one-of-a-kind quirky character, but this one just wants to be loved, needed and remembered.

The laughs begin early on as an honest (to a fault) and forthright 63 year old Britt-Marie enters into a conversation with a girl working in the unemployment office. Desperately in need of a job to improve her self-esteem and need to be useful, Britt-Marie unknowingly proceeds to insult the girl with a so-called compliment about her hairstyle that will crack you up!. There the relationship and daily harassment begins and does not end until temporary employment is secured in the little ghost-like town of Borg.

BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE started off really strong for me, but lost momentum when the storyline moved to Borg; picked up again when Matt (the husband) and Sven (the policeman) entered the picture, but lulled again with an ending a bit too ambiguous for me.

Overall, a very strong 3.5 Star read.

Profile Image for Sue.
1,272 reviews548 followers
June 12, 2016
My regard for soccer is increasing and my thoughts about "dying" or struggling towns is evolving. Thanks to the town of Borg and Britt-Marie. Dying relationships and dying economies come together in this novel of a late middle-aged woman who has left her old life with no real idea of who she is or where she's going -- physically, geographically or emotionally. Backman's book is her journey of self-discovery and her/Borg's discovery of each other.

Britt-Marie has been a wife and homemaker for her entire adult life but now circumstances have led her to a point where she must change---and this is so difficult for her. She is a woman of routines. How is she to leave behind a lifetime of tending to a home and husband, cleaning "just so" with exceptional care. Well she hopes the employment service will help her. The tiny town of Borg had no idea what was coming---and neither did Britt-Marie.

At times I truly wondered about this woman--then I reached my first laugh out loud moment. From there on, I may have wondered slightly but I didn't question where Backman was going. I simply rode along. While I often am reading some heavy tomes, I do enjoy finding a book like this, where powerful messages are put forth in deceptively simple prose.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Helene Jeppesen.
688 reviews3,625 followers
September 6, 2017
Being a bit sceptical to begin with, I ended up loving this book!
The thing that had me sceptical was the protagonist, Britt-Marie, who is quite a character! She lives according to rules, traditions and norms, and she constantly worries about what other people think of her. This makes her quite a rude and quirky character that I wasn't sure I was up for reading a whole book about. However, I stuck with it and quickly found myself loving her and her quirkiness - how did that happen?
The things that made me love this book are: Britt-Marie, the town of Borg and all of its (10?) inhabitants, the humour, the dynamic characters, and the open ending is what convinced me in the end that this is one of the best books I've read so far this year!
I'm going to miss Britt-Marie, Borg and all of its inhabitants, but I'm also going to cherish looking at the book on my shelves, remembering the great and touching story that it brought me.
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,487 reviews843 followers
September 16, 2016
Loved it! Britt-Marie is an unappreciated social misfit, overlooked and living in the shadows of people who are more important, much like the author’s famous Ove from A Man Called Ove. She is as stubbornly awkward and set in her ways as Ove.

She wonders why people look offended or startled when she says things to be sociable.

“It’s very courageous of you to wear your hair so short when you have such a large forehead.”


“It was very brave of you, putting that tie on. Because it looks absolutely preposterous.”

She judges people by the state of their cutlery drawers, with cutlery arranged in the ‘right’ order. She is a fuss-pot who always carries baking soda to disinfect everything everywhere—chairs, rugs, window sills.

She grew up in the shadow of her popular, beloved (now late) sister and eventually married Kent, one of the brothers whom they both knew and who has been married before. Kent is an entrepreneur who has many deals and meetings with “the Germans”.

We meet her when Kent seems to be out of the picture (greener pastures, we suspect - she has mentioned his shirts always smelling of pizza she hasn’t shared and perfume she doesn’t wear).

She goes to the employment bureau, expecting to be given a job forthwith. An employee tells her they’ll be in touch, so Britt-Marie returns the following day.

“The girls clears her throat. ‘Look, I’d love to talk further, but as I keep trying to tell you I just don’t have time at the moment.’’

‘When do you have time?’ Britt-Marie asks, getting out her notebook and methodically going through a list. ‘Three o’clock?’

‘I’m fully booked today—‘

‘I could also manage four or even five o’clock,’ Britt-Marie offers, conferring with herself.

‘We close at five today,’ says the girl.

‘Let’s say five o’clock then.’

‘What? No, we close at five—‘

‘We certainly can’t have a meeting later than five, ‘ Britt-Marie protests.

‘What?’ says the girl.

Britt-Marie smiles with enormous, enormous patience.

‘I don’t want to cause a scene here. Not at all. But my dear girl, civilised people have their dinner at six, so any later than five is surely a bit on the late side for a meeting, wouldn’t you agree? Or are you saying we should have our meeting while we’re eating?’

‘No . . . I mean . . . What?’

‘Ha. Well, in that case you have to make sure you’re not late. So the potatoes don’t get cold.’

Then she writes ’18.00 Dinner’ on her list.

The girl calls out something behind Britt-Marie but Britt-Marie has already gone, because she actually doesn’t have time to stand here going on about this all day."

Britt-Marie returns at 5 to cook dinner at the office, and during the meal tells the girl about an article she’d read about a woman who was found dead in her flat after several weeks because of the smell.

“ ‘She had no children and no husband and no job. No one knew she was there. If one has a job, people notice if one doesn’t show up.

. . .

“I want a job because I actually don’t think it’s very edifying to disturb the neighbours with bad smells. I want someone to know I’m here.”

She ends up in the tiny village of Borg which has a delightful assortment of entertaining characters, none of whom understand her (or vice-versa), but she treats them all the same—drunks, hoodlums, orphans, cops—and they certainly can’t ignore her.

It's not all fun and games. Tragedy does strike closing-down places like Borg. The poverty and lack of opportunity is palpable, many children are neglected, and worst of all, for Britt-Marie, dirty. And noisy.

But they love their football, and she starts washing their gear at the deserted Recreation Centre she is “managing” and learns about the game in spite of herself.

“Every time one of the children gets the ball, their teammates are shouting: Here! I’m here!”

An old former player sitting with Britt-Marie mutters “If you can be heard then you exist”.

“The children play. Call out. Explain where they are. Britt-Marie squeezes her container of bicarbonate of soda until it has dents in it.

‘I’m here,’ she whispers, wishing that Sven was here so she could tell him.

It’s a remarkable club. A remarkable game.”

It’s a remarkable book with an unexpected ending.
Profile Image for Bharath.
643 reviews475 followers
January 9, 2022
I got to this after reading three other books of Fredrik Backman – “A Man called Ove”, “Beartown” and “Us Against You”. In many ways, I feel, this is probably best read before “Beartown” and after “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” (where apparently Brit-Marie figures). Britt-Marie is another memorable character and at least as quirky as Ove. For a considerable portion of the book actually, I felt as if Britt-Marie was Ove in disguise. The circumstances are quite different, yet the style and characterization have clear similarities.

Britt-Marie, at the age of 63, is constrained to look for a job after her husband Kent has left her for another younger woman. She has led a dependent life for many years, has no friends, but is determined now to stand on her own feet. Her persistence in seeking a job at the employment exchange causes the lady there to get exasperated, and yet grows to later love her for her plain-speak, courage and uncorrupted world view. In many ways she is plain, literal and gullible, but has strong values & work ethics. She is obsessed with cleanliness and is forever in a cleaning mode with bicarbonate of soda or Faxin. She finds a temporary position as a caretaker in the small town of Borg, where almost everything seems to be winding up and people losing hope. In a curious turn of events, she ends up becoming the football coach for a bunch of kids.

A lot of the subtle philosophical musings I have come to expect and adore in Backman’s writings is there again, but makes its appearance fairly later in the book. Brit-Marie is a character which will stay with me for long (as will Ove). After the other three books, I somehow felt this opened fewer new doors than those did, but it is also most likely due to the reading sequence.

My rating: 3.75 / 5.
Profile Image for Cititor Necunoscut.
464 reviews84 followers
December 18, 2019
Pur si simplu am iubit-o pe Britt Marie! În general îmi plac personajele atipice, dar Backman chiar are un talent de a te face să îndrăgești chiar și cele mai îndărătnice personaje, iar Britt Marie este genul de personaj care trezește OCD-ul din tine. Pe tot parcursul citirii cărții aveam așa o dorință să curăț, să dezinfectez, să intru în universul ordonat al lui Britt Marie. Dincolo de aparența umoristică a cărții se află tristețea generată de singurătatea persoanelor pentru care a o lua de la capăt nu mai este deloc apetisant.
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