Ove wants to kill himself. That’s pretty apparent from the first page, what was less apparent was how much I would also want Ove to kill himself by halfway through.
A Man Called Ove appeared on my radar late in 2015 but I’ve only just got around to reading it now as like I pointed out at the start of January, I like to think I’m a very busy person. This book received high praise from a number of people in my social network and on Goodreads it has an average score of 4.3, and so I added it to my to-be-read list along with other rave-reviewed books We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and The Trouble with Goats and Sheep expecting to love it.
Given how charmed I was with the other two books which came to me in the same manner, I really looked forward to opening Ove. However, once opened it became apparent that this book held about as much charm as an IKEA GUNDE. Which is to say, no charm at all.
I thought perhaps I was being too hard on the book and that after a couple of chapters I’d get into the swing of its saccharine sweet coincidences and not-quite-oh-so-mysterious foreshadowing. Alas, it just wasn’t to be. As Ove bumbled from one well thought out but poorly executed plan, I became disenchanted with his ridiculous grump and farcical approach to life. Both of which, I’m told, were endearing and heart-warming. I disagree.
Not only did the main character leave me a bit out in the cold, but also the story-telling was just a bit too… kitch. Each chapter unpicks a little bit more of Ove’s past as things in the present spark his memories. Explaining to the audience that every grumpy old man is just a wounded young hero in disguise. Spare me. Please just let Ove succeed in the next chapter, I prayed every night as I cracked the spine of my Kindle, a fate I hadn’t thought to wish on a protagonist again after finishing Anna Karenina all those years ago.
Also, there’s a very questionable chapter just over 60% of the way in entitles ‘A Man Called Ove and a Bender’ which caused more a furrowed brow than whatever it happened to be the author intended. Although I can’t see the function of this chapter aside from the shock value and to show Ove as more understanding than we originally thought but to no ends worth having mentioned sexuality in the first place.
However, all of that said, I must admit by the end, much like Over himself I was won over ever so slightly by the novel. Enough to bump the rating from 2 to 3 stars which is definitely a big jump!
Overall, I found A Man Called Ove to be too close to The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared for my taste, although the latter did have the sufficient charm to allow you to forgive the coincidences and outrageous plot twists throughout. Suffice to say I won’t be on the lookout for Backman’s next offering.