A Man Called Ove (Sceptre Books 2014) by Fredrik Backman is one of those novels that I somehow missed reading at the time it was released despite it achieving international acclaim and then being made into a movie, and the author since writing another two bestsellers. But better late than never, and if you are looking for a light-hearted, feel-good book that will make you laugh and cry and feel all the things in between (especially during this Covid time) then this is the book for you.
Ove is a simple Swedish man who cannot stand incompetence, is surrounded by idiots, lives by the rules and can’t abide all this modern nonsense. He is the grumpiest hero, with the most misanthropic tendencies, and yet by the end of the book, you will be thoroughly won over by his charming eccentricities. He is an unforgettable character and this is a life-affirming and poignant story. What makes him so irresistible is his deeply-held convictions about right and wrong and justice and fairness, and his irrepressible urge to hold the world to account and make everyone step to his own beat. He is irascible and thorny, he is rude and holds grudges, he is judgemental and intolerant. But he is also kind and generous, gentle and brave, loyal and honourable. This sweet story about a man just trying to live (or not live) his life, while being continually interrupted, disturbed and put upon by his ragtag menagerie of neighbours, is an absolute joy to read and will leave you with hope for humanity and a feeling like you’ve just had a warm hug.