A Man Called Ove- Book Review

Why I chose this book?

I check out books recommended by celebrities or prominent individuals as sometimes you could get your hands on books like this gem- “ A Man Called Ove”. 

First, I noticed this book on Twinkle Khanna’s Instagram. Following  such people who read has always been good for me.

 Extraordinary  Goodreads rating of 4.35/5  in 505,076 ratings  convinced me to download the Kindle sample and check the book out. This was some months back. For some reasons I kept on procrastinating it, but then I ended my 2020 with this one by Fredrik Backman.

Fredrik Backman? 

Fredrik Backman is a Swedish blogger, columnist and author. His debut novel A MAN CALLED OVE was a number 1 bestseller across Scandinavia, has sold over 1 million copies worldwide, was a Richard and Judy summer read in the UK and an instant New York Times paperback bestseller, and has been made into an acclaimed film. Fredrik's subsequent novels, also went straight to number 1 in Sweden on publication.

Is this close to becoming one of my favorite books?? Yes, it is very close. It’d have been my best book if I’d have read it a decade back. At the end, you compare books with your best reads (those are probably your initial reads as a beginner) and the impression at that time becomes an indelible one.

The greatness of the book is understood by the number of ratings it has on Goodreads. The book by all means was appreciated by many seasoned readers, which is an arduous task for an author in today’s flat world. 

My gratitude to Author Fredrik Backman for penning down such a marvellous book and telling a sad story in a humourous way.

This is a story of Ove, an old man, who lives by his ethics, is down to earth, and believes in doing things on his own. Compelled to retire because of a health issue and grieved by the loss of his wife, he found it painful to live in this society, and every other day tried to commit suicide. But his life took a dramatic change when a boisterous pregnant lady and her family moved in as his neighbor. He would keep on making suicide attempts, would fail, and the story would move forward.

Author has painted the entire landscape of the urban society through Ove’s lens.Below lines will give a macro view of his thought:

"Nowadays people changed their stuff so often that any expertise in how to make things last was becoming superfluous. Quality: no one cared about that anymore."

"This was a world where one became outdated before one's time was up. An entire country standing up and applauding the fact that no one was capable of doing anything properly any more. The unreserved celebration of mediocrity.

No one could change tyres. install a dimmer switch. Lay some tiles. Plaster a wall. Submit their own tax accounts. There were all forms of knowledge that had lost their relevance.."

No comparison stands good of him and people of a succeeding generation, so to say, you can see the changing landscape of the society irritated him.

This line from the book describes him totally:

Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say’ 

He was a man of his words and, truly; he liked Saab, and judged people based on their actions and choices.

What makes this character interesting? 

People whom you would not like in first meeting, or bluntly, you would hate them, such is the character of  Ove. But as you understand him, his struggles, sad story and happy past, you start loving him.

I think  everyone can relate to him at a certain point in a story. You may not need to be old as the reactions of Ove to life situations is sometimes very realistic and to the point. 

Another aspect that makes this stand apart is the way author described his emotions. For eg

" And when she giggled she sounded the way Ove imagined champagne bubbles would have sounded if they were capable of laughter"

And then this one:

' Corrugated iron?' he says to himself, as if tasting the word, like someone who's just woken up and is intensely trying to remember what he's been dreaming.

Did you get it? Description of emotions in such a subtle way makes this book an international bestseller. One of the reason that I liked this book.

And then this one won my heart, and made me realize love in a new and a unique way:

" He decided that maybe her inability to be on time was not the most important thing."

Here, he referred to the inability of his wife to be punctual....

The story moved forward with such finer details of Ove’s past and present. The intention of author was to share any related past incident or memory that would help the reader follow the present scenario, and in the process would also add a layer of characterisation to Ove. It worked pretty well. 

Author has also tried to portray the bond or lack of it between neighbors. How they can change one’s life or can make it miserable.  Initially he disliked the intrusive nature of his neighbors but at the end he started liking them like a family. Prior to that, he only liked people primarily whose choices of a car were a Saab or a Volvo.

The book is written in third person, and in past and present tense as it talks about Ove’s past and present life. I liked the narration. Each chapter is like an incident from Ove’s life, and the chapter’s name is the title for that incident.

What one can learn from the book>

  • We should do our own work, I know this is a debatable topic as outsourcing gives you time to invest in something else. But, even then it holds good.
  • Principles are very important in one's life. We all should try to do what we say.
  • We should help others selflessly in our own capacity.
  • Neighbors can sometimes become more than family also.

A movie was also made on this book. But do read it before you watch the movie. On the whole, I recommend this book to every one, and especially to contemporary authors and writers.

Read other book reviews here

Happy Reading :)

Chetan Maheshwari

Hello, I am a Project Management Professional, and an author and a blogger by passion. I like good sarcasm and humor. Books, people around me, and nature inspire me, and my blogs and book reflect the same.


Let me know what you think

  1. Wow! I loved your review. I have been wanting to read this book since a long time. Your review convinced me to read it soon this year.

  2. Hey Thanks Purba, Yeah it is a good book, you should read it.

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