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A Man Called Ove
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Previous BRs - Authors; A - D > Backman, Fredrik - A Man Called Ove - Informal Buddy Read; Start November 5, 2014

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This topic is open for discussion about A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman




Book synopsis:
In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon; the kind of man 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 call him 'the bitter neighbour from hell'. But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.


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Sarah | 3273 comments I can't wait for this one. I will be doing the audio version.


Alex (alexfc) | 13 comments I have the ebook version :)


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Clare Butler | 294 comments I'm in


Alex (alexfc) | 13 comments Starting today....


Sarah | 3273 comments Me too - I have started. Will comment soon. First off I have the audio version. Right off the bat the name is pronounced Oova. I don't like, I liked Ove, but otherwise - very quirky rigid grumpy man, but enjoying getting to know this crotchety man and how he views the world. Don't know how his wife handles it. But it does make for some comical scenarios, Ove and his interactions with the world around him.


Sarah | 3273 comments Chapter 1 - 5
I thought there were multiple humorous scenes for sure, but I was laughing outloud when his new neighbors backed over his dirt "garden" and the he had to help out with backing up their trailer. The conversation and Ove's frustration, thought process, and rhetoric was quite amusing. He is a quirky character, not very flexible. But by the end of chapter five things are getting a little more complex when the big bomb is dropped - now not so funny, but sad. With good character development I usually fall in love with a character, and even though Ove is not an easy man to contend with, I think I am just gonna fall head over heals for him and really be rooting for him as he navigates his story.


Cynthia (cynthiab) @ Sarah - How is the audiobook otherwise? I can either check out the audiobook now or get in line for the book at the library.

I just checked out a slew of books, so I'm cool waiting if the audiobook isn't all that.


message 11: by Sarah (last edited Nov 05, 2014 04:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sarah | 3273 comments I really like it. I love it actually.


Rebecca (rebeccasg) | 3321 comments Ooh I'd like to read it! I think I will be able to start this weekend, so hopefully not too late!


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I've read chapters 1-6. A nice mix of humour and sadness. I like Ove but he'd be a nightmare customer.


message 14: by Sarah (last edited Nov 06, 2014 01:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sarah | 3273 comments Thank God someone is joining in. I was getting worried.

Up to Chapter 9 - so be aware of spoilers
The story is going back and forth between his earlier years and his present. Even though he clearly has antisocial characteristics and maybe Aspergers - he does seem different when he was younger than now. All though he was mathematical and such when he was young - I wonder how much of his younger years helped shape him. He really has suffered some losses - he was an Orphan by 16 - and now the loss of his wife - the only color in his black and white life - it is really a lot he is faced with.


message 15: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex (alexfc) | 13 comments I am about to start chapter 6, it is getting more and more interesting. Now you start to understand a little bit of Ove's background, his sad story and his complex personality. I like him, a very "square" behavior but he has his own logic that makes it funny to read. I liked a lot when he was driving and the Mercedes driver was pushing him but he has his revenge at the end.
I am not a fast reader so bear with me...


Sarah | 3273 comments Welcome Alex. I work a twelve hour shift tomorrow. So I will be slowing down.


ZaraS  *book reviewer I started this the other day. Haven't got far into it yet.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh dear! I've nearly finished it. I got up this morning and couldn't stop reading it - I blame the short chapters I keep thinking "just one more".

I'm really enjoying it even though it has its sad bits. You guys have another big one coming up.

My dad isn't as nearly argumentative as Ove but Ove's quietness, his preference for doing things/fixing things, etc really reminds me of my dad. My dad has lots of tools, bits of wood and all these jars for each type and size of nail, screw, nut and bolt in his 'workshop'. Like Ove and Sonja's relationship my mum is the talkative one.


message 19: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex (alexfc) | 13 comments I am at chapter 11 and I am enjoying the story a lot, Ove is really quite a character but life has been so hard on him that makes it easier to understand his behaviour.
I loved that part where it says that "He was a man of black and white. And she was color. All the color he had" and where he describes the way he used to hold his hand when he felt that nothing in the world was impossible and that this what the thing that he missed the most. He really loved her, he thinks she was her destiny.
And I am also liking Parvaneh as she is pushing Ove to the limit, calling him unfriendly and rude but in a friendly way.
Let's keep reading during the weekend...


Rebecca (rebeccasg) | 3321 comments I read the first chapter last night and it cracked me up! I can't wait to read more tonight!


Sarah | 3273 comments I am finishing up right now, when you guys are finishing up I will have lots to discuss. I really loved this book. So many memorable sweet moments. At first Ove may seem so crotchety, but under the gruff exterior is a man with a heart of gold.


Sarah | 3273 comments I finished with a huge giggling grin on my face. A perfect ending to a perfect book. I loved it. 5 stars for me.


Cynthia (cynthiab) I'm still patiently (not) waiting for my copy from the library. It's due back 11/21, but I'm hoping the person that has it doesn't take that long to read it.


Rebecca (rebeccasg) | 3321 comments I read the first 6 chapters yesterday.

So far (view spoiler)


Sarah | 3273 comments RebeccaS wrote: "I read the first 6 chapters yesterday.

So far [spoilers removed]"


Yes this book is both sad and full of humor. There is happiness too.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

I finished the book on Saturday. Very good - 5 stars.

I hadn't heard of this one so thanks Sarah for asking for the buddy read.


Sarah | 3273 comments Does anyone have a favorite relationship between Ove and another character? I liked Ove and the cat and Ove and Parvaneh the most.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Ove and the cat. I also love the 3 year old's reaction to him. She just sees all his grumpiness as being so funny.


Rebecca (rebeccasg) | 3321 comments Up through Chapter 11

I love reading about Ove's past because it really shows why he is the way he is now. (view spoiler)

I love how his new neighbors have basically forced their way into his life. I would definitely not be able to do that myself.


message 30: by Sarah (last edited Nov 10, 2014 05:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sarah | 3273 comments Pigletto wrote: "Ove and the cat. I also love the 3 year old's reaction to him. She just sees all his grumpiness as being so funny."

One thing I noticed was when it states he was black and white and his wife was the color. Well if you pay attention the three year old draws pictures of her family and includes Ove and the mother says to Ove that her daughter always draws Ove in color because he is the funniest man she knows. So even though Ove sees his wife as his color and thinks he is just black and white, he is actually the color for another person, a little three year old girl.


message 31: by Sarah (last edited Nov 10, 2014 06:02PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sarah | 3273 comments RebeccaS wrote: "Up through Chapter 11

I love reading about Ove's past because it really shows why he is the way he is now. [spoilers removed]

I love how his new neighbors have basically forced their way into his..."


I remember when he finally lost it on Tom, to me that was a pivotal moment when he finally became his own man, he wasn't doing something his father would feel was right - he was doing something Ove would do. He was becoming his own person, and done taking shit from anyone.


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Sarah wrote: "Pigletto wrote: "Ove and the cat. I also love the 3 year old's reaction to him. She just sees all his grumpiness as being so funny."

One thing I noticed was when it states he was black and white a..."


I hadn't thought about that but you're right. It's similar to when he feels that he is useless because he has been let go from work but then he has all these people needing his help but he only sees them as a nuisance.


Rebecca (rebeccasg) | 3321 comments I just read the story about how Ove met his wife. (view spoiler)


Rebecca (rebeccasg) | 3321 comments I love the cat!! I also love how Ove calls him "Cat Annoyance". I think this is definitely my favorite of Ove's interactions so far.


Sarah | 3273 comments I love Ove and his wife - this is also a beautiful love story - will discuss more when you two are finished.


message 36: by Rebecca (last edited Nov 12, 2014 05:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rebecca (rebeccasg) | 3321 comments I'm hoping to finish tonight, but it will depend on how my day goes.

Up through chapter 26
(view spoiler)

Quick question, do we know the names of the 3 year old and her older sister?


message 37: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex (alexfc) | 13 comments I am up to chapter 27...I agree with all of you, he looks like a grumpy old man but on the inside is completely different, he just needs a little push to show his kindness (on his on way though). I as well think that he is full of color.
The relationship that I like the most is the one with the cat, Ove was feeling so lonely but now with the cat he has someone to interact and have conversations (at least on his mind) and it is helping him to go through the day and re-think his attitudes.


Sarah | 3273 comments RebeccaS wrote: "I'm hoping to finish tonight, but it will depend on how my day goes.

Up through chapter 26
[spoilers removed]

Quick question, do we know the names of the 3 year old and her older sister?"


You know I think maybe the names were given at some point... But then I listened to the audio - so I often foreget the names more easily than I do anyway.


Rebecca (rebeccasg) | 3321 comments I just finished the book! What a joy to read. I love the easy going tone of the book, even when the worst things were happening.

(view spoiler)


message 40: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex (alexfc) | 13 comments Wow...what a ride with a man called Ove!
(view spoiler)
Let me know when everyone is done with the book to discuss further.
An additional question, is it normal that the government council gets so involved in everyones lives like in this book?


Rebecca (rebeccasg) | 3321 comments Alex wrote "An additional question, is it normal that the government council gets so involved in everyones lives like in this book? "

This is definitely not the case where I'm from in the US. But who knows, maybe this is more realistic in Scotland. I would say though, once someone is diagnosed as sick or with a disability, there are many people (doctors, social workers, psychiatrists, etc) that do have many opinions about what should be done and sometimes have the power to make decisions. However, most of the time, consent is needed from a patient and/or family members. I don't know if this would fly here today.


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

RebeccaS wrote: "This is definitely not the case where I'm from in the US. But who knows, maybe this is more realistic in Scotland. "

I'm not sure where Scotland came from as the book is set in Sweden. I'm not sure it is realistic certainly here in the UK people may be taken into a care setting without family consent but that would really only be where the family really couldn't cope and this led to the person not being looked after properly. Even then they would have to look at providing support, etc before this type of decision could be made and it certainly would have to go to a hearing where a panel would decide. I don't think the author has much experience of Social Services or did much research.

(view spoiler)


Rebecca (rebeccasg) | 3321 comments Whoops that was a typo. It's early and I haven't had all my coffee. I was thinking Sweden and my fingers typed Scotland.


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

RebeccaS wrote: "Whoops that was a typo. It's early and I haven't had all my coffee. I was thinking Sweden and my fingers typed Scotland."

Always blame it on the coffee. I haven't had enough. I've had too much.


message 45: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex (alexfc) | 13 comments That what I thought, there has to be a consent from the family but I guess that is why Ove was so upset in this case.

Drinking my coffee as well, still thinking about Ove's story...have a great day!


Sarah | 3273 comments I think we all have finished and since this is our discussion, here I go... But WARNING SPOILER ALERT.

I felt like there may have been some religeuos undertones in the sense that suicide is a sin. And many times Ove was ready to committ the deed, it was like divine intervention stopped him until Ove finally had exactly what he needed to continue on in life and in the end, he died in a natural way. I felt like many believe suicide is a grave sin, in the Christian faith, and gives up the chance of passage into heaven, where surely his good wife is waiting. So now he has lived life until it's natural end, doing good for others, at the end he can close his eyes and rest in peace... and be reunited with his love in heaven. A fairytale ending, but oh so sweet. Still can be enjoyable and refreshing though. It was for me.


ZaraS  *book reviewer I'm hesitant to write what I think of this book after reading everybody else's comments. When I started this book I thought it was going to be funny, which it was for the first chapter. After that all I was hearing was a grumpy old man who seemed to have it in for the world. He also came across to me as though he was the only one who did everything right. For example when people said hello to him or waved to him in greeting he snubbed them. He seemed to do nothing but complain about everything. I'm sorry but I really couldn't get into this book at all.


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

Zara wrote: "I'm hesitant to write what I think of this book after reading everybody else's comments. When I started this book I thought it was going to be funny, which it was for the first chapter. After that ..."

What did you think about his past and his relationship with his wife? What about all the people he helped? Yes, he complained but surely actions speak louder than words.


message 49: by Sarah (last edited Nov 15, 2014 01:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sarah | 3273 comments Zara - you can share your opinions. What is a good book discussion without an argument? - those are the best. No argument here though - don't worry. You are correct about Ove's character, and for most people, even in his world, I think they would agree. But I think there were a few people, like Parvaneh, who were able to just not put up with his shit and railroad right in to his grumpy exterior to that soft gooey place deep inside. This book was also about transformation. I saw his character change over time and he opened up to possibilities and relationships with people he had spent his lifetime being foreign to. I think his wife was the only person who was able to do this in his life, but when she died I think others were able to step in and shake him up a bit and open up his heart.


Cynthia (cynthiab) Sarah, this was an excellent book suggestion. A very emotional book without being heavy. That takes a lot of talent.

I saw bits and pieces of Ove in myself, my husband, my father, my grandfather.

I know what it's like to lose companionship and career and feel useless and pointless. Ove overcame this by connecting with his neighbors, even though it wasn't his choice in the beginning.

I think he was traumatized by losses early in his life and built his emotional shell to protect himself from more pain. He became afraid to take risks.

Of course I cried at the end, but I'm not sure if it was sadness at Ove's death or because he died knowing he was loved and valued.

Great story.


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