It’s a rainy, cool yet muggy morning as I enjoy my delicious Date Bar from City Cafe. I had tea earlier, so there is no steaming cup before me now, just a finished book, a date bar and a stack of potential “next reads”.
My volunteer book club will meet in two weeks to discuss A Man Called Ove (I think it rhymes with “move” but with an eh sound at the end), bestselling debut novel by Swedish author Fredrik Backman. I have been reluctant to read this, mostly based on the fact that it continues to be a bestseller even though it was published more than five years ago, but also because it has been described as a “feel-good”, heartwarming book, and as you have probably guessed from my previous posts, I don’t read “feel-good” books very often because I don’t usually enjoy them. But I put this one on my book club list because I try to have a “light, easy” read in the summer, and one of the members of my Friends’ book club has been wanting to have this as a selection for quite some time. The only deterrent is that it is still difficult to get hold of a library copy, but I’m confident my group members will face this challenge with success. This novel tells the story of Ove, a fifty-nine-year-old man whose life has been anything but easy. At the time of the story, his wife has been dead for six months and he’s just been made redundant at work, losing a job he’s held for more than a third of his life. How is he to fill the time and find a purpose in the face of his current circumstances? This reclusive man can fairly be called curmudgeonly, so when his new neighbours move in, he doesn’t welcome them with open arms. Heavily pregnant Parvaneh, husband Patrick and their two daughters, however, do not seem able to appreciate Ove’s desire to remain alone, and manage to wheedle their way into his life even as he makes many half-hearted attempts to end it. Among his new “friends” is a mangy tomcat who, like Parvaneh, just assumes welcome into Ove’s life, taking over as if invited. Over the course of the book, a myriad cast of characters appear, and by the end, we take away the message that we never really know the extent or ways in which we touch the lives of others. It was a heartwarming book, all right, but it started out kind of boring and repetitive, and I was all set to not enjoy it at all. But somewhere along the way, maybe after the first third of the book, the story really took off and I found myself looking forward to silent reading time, despite the always-chaotic end of the school year - it felt to me as if the writing got better as it went along, steamrolling ahead to a satisfying conclusion. I finished it this morning, and determined that it was a priceless book that would appeal to everyone, and would make a wonderful selection for any book club. Unlike Ove, I will admit that my initial thoughts about this book were wrong, and I’m so thankful to my friend from the other book club for recommending this book so often and so passionately.
That’s all for today. Stay dry and keep reading!
Bye for now…Julie
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