What does one call a fifty-nine year old man who is opinionated, irreverent, cantankerous, and pessimistic about the world around him? Ove, of course! When we first meet Ove he is about to undertake his daily inspection of the housing development where he lives. This occurs at precisely six o’clock every morning, rain or shine. He is a man of strict routine and doesn’t like anything disturbing the peace of the neighborhood. As Ove goes about his business the reader will find himself laughing out loud in bursts of acknowledgement as he realizes that he knows someone just like Ove or is, perhaps, himself a bit like the central character. Throughout the progression of the story we learn that Ove has been recently released from his position at work (too old most likely), has also recently lost his wife (the one shining beacon in his world), and is about to leave this world (failing miserably at several suicide attempts). Just when Ove has things in hand, or so he thinks, he’s forced to care for a stray cat because that’s what Sonja, his wife, would have liked. Having made arrangements for the cat in his last directive he is about to attempt suicide once more wanting nothing more than to join his wife on the other side. This time it is the new neighbors, a foreign pregnant lady with an idiot husband and two young daughters who intrude into Ove’s reality.
Finely drawn complex characters, a plot that unfolds in flashbacks and long talks with a deceased spouse, comedic moments that resound with hilarity, all come together in this fun look at life. Charming, endearing, heartwarming, funny, witty, and wise all at the same time, this book should be on everyone’s to be read list. Not only did this reviewer enjoy the book, it was one that my husband (a rather Ove-like man himself) and I took pleasure in reading aloud. While the story is set in Sweden its message is global. We are a product of our upbringing and there isn’t much that will change as we age. Adaptation to one’s changing circumstances may not be easy, and we may not be able to make the adjustments, but it certainly is worth the try.
One of the five best books I’ve read this year. Highly recommended for all age groups.
Rating: 5 Stars