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A Man Called Ove–tale of a curmudgeon

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A Man Called Ove

by Fredrik Backman

Ove is a puzzle of a man—a man you will grow to love, as his wife Sophia did, as you learn more about him. Almost any details about Ove’s background would be spoilers. Let’s just say that his father was a good role model for him, he came from a loving home, and he found himself on his own too soon.

In Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove, the main character Ove runs his life according to routines and has undeniable moral standards and an impeccable work ethic. His wife is the color in his black and white life, and he loves her completely, always trying to do things that will please her. Sophia can tease him about things they don’t agree on, and she is the only one who can do so without angering him.

This novel is filled with interesting characters who bring out the best in Ove who might be described as a curmudgeon. Of special note is Parvaneh, the Iranian, pregnant mother of two, who is persistent in her attempts to bring Ove out of his shell and interacting with neighbors. Gradually, as the plot develops, more characters are introduced, and we learn how things came to be the way they are—why the kitchen counters and cabinets at Ove’s house are all low, how his neighbor Rune and Ove over the many years have both cooperated and feuded, and why Ove feels so passionately about the government “white suits.”

I smiled, laughed, and cried my way through A Man Called Ove. It is impossible to read it without reaction. Backman has a talent for relating Ove’s character and actions in a humorous way. The story is told in the third person, but in such a manner that the reader feels present. The narration goes back and forth between the present and the past with fluidity. New chapters begin with no segue or introduction. The reader is dropped abruptly into the action and setting as in Chapter 21 which begins with “Of course, the bus tour was her idea. Ove couldn’t see the use of it.” This style of writing works well in relating the tale. In concluding the story  of the unforgettable Ove, the plot threads all tie together nicely and there is closure with a feeling of satisfaction and hope.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: 1. Originally published in Swedish.

  2. Contains some foul language, but it is appropriate to Ove’s character, and he attempts to curb it around children, etc.

Publication:  2012—Simon & Schuster (Washington Square Press)

Memorable Lines:

And then he utters seven words, which Parvaneh will always remember as the loveliest compliment he’ll ever give her. “Because you are not a complete twit.”

“What sort of love is it if you hand someone over when it gets difficult?’ she cries, her voice shaking with sorrow. “Abandon someone when there’s resistance? Tell me what sort of love that is!”

…Ove had probably known all along what he had to do, whom he had to help before he could die. But we are always optimists when it comes to time; we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them. Time to appeal.


  1. Carla says:

    Beautiful review Linda. I also loved this story. I renamed it, Ove, they name is Ray, because I could see so much of my husband in him. It was such and emotional book and I always shocked when I read a review saying they thought it was boring. It was my second Backman book I read and it cinched him as an author I will always read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good review, I haven’t read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      I read it with my book club via Zoom. I still do ARC’s, but the book club has helped me widen my horizons. This is one of those books I probably wouldn’t have chosen on my own, but I am so glad we read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your 5/5 reviews always make me want to read the book!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michelle says:

    I enjoyed this book, too! I laughed and cried right along through the pages.

    Liked by 1 person

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