Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Posted December 26, 2021 by lomeraniel in Audiobooks, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Review / 0 Comments

Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik BackmanA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Henning Koch, Uroš Kalčič, اسدالله حقانی
Narrator: Joan Walker
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 07-03-14
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon/Audible
Overal Rating: three-stars

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 neighbor 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.

Ove is a lonely old man who has lost his wife and now he can’t find a meaning to his existence. A new family arrives in the neighborhood and Ove’s life will be turned upside down.

There are some hard topics in this book. That, coupled with an atypical main character, are the winning points of A Man Called Ove. It reminded me a bit of As Good As It Gets (movie) but without the romantic part, or A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. Very soon the reader knows the intentions behind Ove’s actions, and most of what happens in the first chapters is heartbreaking. I loved the premises of this story, and it had the right ingredients to be a five-star book, but something failed on its execution for me. I know many people love this book, so my opinion is not a popular one. The main setback for me was that I didn’t feel the character were polished enough. They didn’t seem like real people to me. They were poorly developed, and what we saw from them was just too perfect. Given the message this book tries to deliver, I expected it to be more powerful. I am not sure if what is missing is due to the translation or just because the characters could have done with some more development. I remember I loved A Spot of Bother, but I just feel lukewarm about A Man Called Ove.

The narration was another reason why this book didn’t completely work for me. The story is told in third person, and every chapter tells a different aspect about Ove. I found Joan Walker’s narration too patronizing. Sometimes I had the feeling she was reading a book to little children. It could have been on purpose, but the topics in the book delivered in this way didn’t sit well with me. The technical aspects of the audio production were well done, but the interpretation was just off for me, and the characters sounded all quite similar. Maybe I just didn’t get it.

Story (Plot)
Overall: three-stars