I did something incredible this summer. For two weeks of my three week holiday I turned my phone off. Completely off. No news alerts, no texts or email, no facebook or social media. Not only was it the most blissful two weeks of my life but I actually finished reading the book I’d spent months trying to finish (The Goldfinch which is a monstrously large book). I then went on to read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Ru by Kim Thuy, Victorian Parlour Games (unsure but perhaps something like Edmund Beaver, and Martin Amis’ The War Against Cliche.
In addition, I spent a great deal of time learning about birds in the Guide to West Coast Birds (owls don’t build nests, who knew?) and I read an entire Vanity Fair cover to cover. It was heaven. Imagine how clever I would be at dinner parties if I could keep up this torrid pace of reading.
When I started reading A Man Called Ove I had just finished reading The Goldfinch and you really couldn’t have two more different books or writers. The style of writing in Ove feels stark, plain and a bit cold much like I imagine a blustery grey Swedish day might be. Of course, Ove, himself, is no picnic. He’s an old guy (58 which isn’t old to me but anyways) who is one dour, grumpy unlikable guy.
Written in short, somewhat terse chapters you find out what has happened to Ove, and through a series of rollicking, comical misadventures with the young family who has moved in next door, you find out who Ove really is. It turns out underneath all the cranky bluster is a solid, kindhearted guy!
I really didn’t like this book but it was an easy read so I kept reading it (hey I had all the time in the world!) But in a dramatic turn of events, by the time I finished the book I was sobbing, uncontrollably while waiting in the car for the ferry. Dave kept looking at me and asking “Are you okay? Are you okay? Did you look at your phone?” No, I didn’t peek at my phone which tends to send my blood pressure through the roof but in the end A Man Called Ov was a lighthearted gut wrencher and I enjoyed it thoroughly for that reason alone.