Ove is a fifty-nine-year-old grump. He’s stubborn, angry, rude, a stickler for the rules, and someone who can become infuriated by the simplest of things. In some ways, I can related to Ove a little too well, so I found his cynical inner dialogue to be hilarious right through the novel.
Through flashbacks, we learn his life story and slowly start to understand why he is the way he is. It begins with him meeting his new neighbours and immediately hating them, but as the story progresses he begrudgingly spends more and more time with them. He is a wonderful character, but the other characters in the novel, particularly the wife of the new neighbours, are great as well.
The plot of the story is fairly predictable, the few surprises will be annoyingly ruined if you’ve seen the trailer for the 2015 movie (which I haven’t watched yet), but I was enjoying Ove’s story enough to still fly through the novel. It’s covers some pretty heavy stuff around trying to deal with loss and grief, but it’s also very funny, so it never really gets bogged down with that. I think he managed to strike a good balance between the heartfelt moments and the funny moments, where it felt comedic but didn’t feel like it was trying to strong arm emotions in there as well.
This was Fredrik Backman’s first novel, and he’s gone on to publish a few more. I haven’t heard anything about them, but I’ll keep an eye out.