A couple of years my stepmother bought me this book. It languished in my paperback TBR pile for a long time because I didn’t think I wanted to read about a curmudgeonly Swedish man who learns to chill, relax his black-and-white view of the world and learn to love.
I’ve been wrong all these years.
Yes Ove is curmudgeonly. But he has principles. Firm ones that mean he argues and complains alot. But the book isn’t really about him learning to love. It’s really about him finding another set of people to bestow that love upon. It’s the reader finding out how to love an argumentative old man who seems unredeemable but who has lived a life of profound usefulness and integrity. It’s about learning to love and respect that usefulness (and wish that Ove was an uncle or grandfather because we could all use someone as talented at fixing things as Ove.)
We meet Ove as he is trying to end his own life. But he must set his affairs in order, and do his usual rounds of the grounds around the row of houses where he lives first. And so we meet the other denizens of the row houses from his grouchy point of view. The rest of the story slowly peels back the history of Ove and his wife Sonja’s goodness.
Absolutely lovely in a grouchy, honorable way.