Jim Fonseca's Reviews > A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
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bookshelves: swedish-authors, suicide, humor, farce

I think I’ll be a dissenter on this one, giving it only a ‘3.’

A brief review because there are so many good ones already. Ove is a curmudgeon. His life is lived in black and white. There are rules to follow and if you don’t follow them, look out. He posts warning signs in his suburban townhouse development in Sweden and he bangs on your car window if you bring you vehicle in where they are prohibited. Or if you park illegally. Or if you rest you bike against the tool shed. Or walk your dog on his piece of lawn. He even gets mad at a feral cat trespassing. He can’t understand why any normal person would buy a car other than a Saab. Needless to say, he has no friends and doesn’t want any. He’s particularly adept at battling bureaucrats. It’s one of his few enjoyments in life.

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He’s even worse now that has his wife has died. We know this at the beginning of the story. She kept him in line and his love for her was his only purpose in life. Now that she’s gone – and let’s put it this way: he wants to join her on the other side. He brings flowers to the cemetery and talks with her. He makes several attempts to ‘join her’ but each time he gets interrupted by having to take someone in the neighborhood to the hospital.

A newly arrived Iranian family is particularly persistent in trying to befriend him and get him back into society. We know that underneath that prickly exterior, Ove has a heart of gold, which is why he had a wife he could only dream of. Grudgingly, resisting all the way, he takes tiny steps back into society, getting involved with the neighbors’ kids and taking into his home a young man thrown out by his father when the boy revealed he was gay.

description

So, a good story with humor but I guess I didn’t like all the farcical attempts to join his wife and it got repetitive for me. The book is translated from the Swedish. It was made into a movie in Sweden in 2016. The author has written several other well-regarded novels including Beartown, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and Britt-Marie Was Here.

Photo of a townhouse development in Ystad from alamy.com
The author from fredrikbackmanbooks.com
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 5, 2019 – Shelved
November 5, 2019 – Shelved as: swedish-authors
November 5, 2019 – Shelved as: suicide
November 5, 2019 – Shelved as: humor
November 5, 2019 – Shelved as: farce
November 5, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)

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Paige Really great review! I know most people love it, but this was 3 stars for me, too. I also felt like it became repetitive.


Andrea I agree!


message 3: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Fonseca Paige wrote: "Really great review! I know most people love it, but this was 3 stars for me, too. I also felt like it became repetitive."

Yes I wanted to like it


message 4: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Fonseca Andrea wrote: "I agree!"

It reminds me of times I think a book is great and I give it a 5 and someone else rates it a 2!


message 5: by Pattie (new)

Pattie Really good, honest review. I confess that I started the book twice and put it down both times. I found the “lovable curmudgeon” aspect over the top and not believable.


Michelle Great review, Jim. I agree it got a little repetitive.


message 7: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Fonseca Pattie wrote: "Really good, honest review. I confess that I started the book twice and put it down both times. I found the “lovable curmudgeon” aspect over the top and not believable."
Even a third of the way through I thought of not finishing it. I also thought for a while it was a YA book until he started trying to do himself in.


message 8: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Fonseca Michelle wrote: "Great review, Jim. I agree it got a little repetitive."

Thanks Michelle


message 9: by Liz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Liz Fothergill Could the repetitiveness represent an aspect of Ove’s personality and life that he tries desperately to maintain?


message 10: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Fonseca Liz wrote: "Could the repetitiveness represent an aspect of Ove’s personality and life that he tries desperately to maintain?"

Sure, perhaps a way of thinking of it is that he is "in a rut" socially and the caring neighbors are trying to break him out of it.


Barbara Nice review, Jim. I guess we all march to our own drummer! This is one of the rare books which earned a 5 star rating from me. It touched me completely! I have read several of the author's books, but I thought it was his best.


message 12: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Fonseca Barbara wrote: "Nice review, Jim. I guess we all march to our own drummer! This is one of the rare books which earned a 5 star rating from me. It touched me completely! I have read several of the author's books, b..."
Thanks Barbara! Of course we all look for different things in our reading. That info about Ove compared to his other books is helpful. I read several reviews of Beartown but it didn't appeal to me


Terry Sorry that you didn’t enjoy this as much as I did. It made me laugh out loud — perhaps some gallows humor appeals more to me, but I am always up for something that does that. I also found the end of the book touching. It’s always great to have another opinion, though, and I am sure your followers will benefit from your comments. I frequently do!


message 14: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Fonseca Terry wrote: "Sorry that you didn’t enjoy this as much as I did. It made me laugh out loud — perhaps some gallows humor appeals more to me, but I am always up for something that does that. I also found the end o..."

Thanks for your kind comments about my reviews Terry. You're right about the humor - black humor I guess. I should have mentioned that too in my review.


message 15: by Pam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pam I agree with your comments Jim. I don’t remember laughing out loud, like some of my friends have commented. I liked Beartown a lot more.


message 16: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Fonseca Pam wrote: "I agree with your comments Jim. I don’t remember laughing out loud, like some of my friends have commented. I liked Beartown a lot more."

Pam, yes the humor was more subtle, but some of it still funny


message 17: by Adam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Adam Yearsley Good review, Jim. I liked this book a lot, as I did his other novel, Beartown, but I thought Britt-Marie was Here to be a dull book.


message 18: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Fonseca Adam wrote: "Good review, Jim. I liked this book a lot, as I did his other novel, Beartown, but I thought Britt-Marie was Here to be a dull book."

Thanks Adam. That's useful info - if I read another of his it will likely be Beartown


Barbara I did not care for it either.


message 20: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Fonseca Barbara wrote: "I did not care for it either."

Amazing how all our tastes are different !


message 21: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara I'm way too cynical for something like this. For any happy ending, really.😒 Actually, I must be a curmudgeon!!!😸


message 22: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Fonseca Barbara wrote: "I'm way too cynical for something like this. For any happy ending, really.😒 Actually, I must be a curmudgeon!!!😸"

I read that one! A Woman called Barbara. It was great! (Waiting for the movie.)


message 23: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin Although we differ in our rating of the book, you have written a fair and balanced review.


message 24: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim Fonseca Erin wrote: "Although we differ in our rating of the book, you have written a fair and balanced review."

Thanks Erin, I liked your review too


Barbara Jim wrote: "Barbara wrote: "I did not care for it either."

Amazing how all our tastes are different !"


I agree, Jim. That's what makes reviews so very interesting. If we all agreed it would be so boring.


message 26: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin Jim wrote: "Erin wrote: "Although we differ in our rating of the book, you have written a fair and balanced review."

Thanks Erin, I liked your review too"


Thank you, Jim!


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