I naturally seem to gravitate towards psychological thrillers and dramas and, recently I realised that my reading had got quite dark – just over the past couple of months I’ve read books covering murder, cults, incest and more. A Man Called Ove was my attempt to change that – I was looking for something heartwarming and humorous, and this was perfect. I really enjoyed this book.
Everyone has someone a little like Ove in their lives. He doesn’t mince his words, he’s a stickler for rules and he’s the epitome of the term ‘stuck in their ways’. He’s only driven one brand of car his entire life, and he can’t quite understand why anyone would want to do any different. Each morning, he walks a circuit of his neighbourhood to check for burglaries, even though one has never occurred in the decades he’s lived in the area. But scrape back the curmudgeonly veneer you’ll find a softer side to Ove.
This book delivers on multiple levels. On one hand, it’s a light-hearted, entertaining story about a man and his antics with the local community, in particular the new neighbours and the local stray cat whom he slowly, begrudgingly befriends. But on the other hand, it’s a surprisingly deep and touching story about a love which lasted a lifetime. Through chapters which delve into the past, the author gradually peels back the layers of someone you could easily dismiss as a grumpy old man, revealing Ove’s utter devotion to his wife Sonja, and the hardships the couple faced which explain some of Ove’s underlying resentments.
“He was a man of black and white. And she was colour. All the colour he had.”
Sonja and Ove’s relationship is drawn beautifully, the quintessential ‘opposites attract’. The story of their relationship isn’t just a love story, but a life story, and it goes past any ‘happy ever after’, exploring the sense of grief and loss that comes with one half of a pair being left behind.
“For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.”
This was the perfect break from the thrillers I’d been reading, and it’s one I’d recommend anyone to try. Just be prepared – this isn’t just one that will make you smile, it’ll tug at the heartstrings too.