A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
Genre: Contemporary fiction, Translation
A Man Called Ove is the English translation of the original work in Swedish, En Man Som Heter Ove, by Swedish columnist, blogger, and writer Fredrik Backman. This book has received rave, rave, rave reviews across the blog world, and has been praised over and over again on the book groups that I am a part of. Sadly, though, I happen to fall in the minority category – that category of people who did not love this book to bits.
A Man Called Ove is the story of Ove, a man in his 60s, a curmudgeon, very unfriendly, a stickler for rules, who seems to be without a heart. As the story unravels, the readers get to know Ove better, understand the events that have made up his life, understand why he is the way he is.
I failed to fall in love with Ove, right from the beginning of the book to the end. None of the characters made a real impact on me. All the obstacles in Ove’s life felt like things that do happen to real people, and while I do think life’s woes make people bitter, they don’t insult or hound people the way Ove seems to do. Call me a curmudgeon myself or a person without a heart or a cynic, but I somehow couldn’t dredge up sympathy or develop a soft corner for Ove.
I would like to add here that the translation from Swedish to English is very well done. Not for a single moment did I feel that I was reading a translated work.
Overall, this turned out to be a highly disappointing read for me. If you haven’t read this book yet, I would suggest that you do, without letting my opinion of it colour your thoughts. After all, there are thousands of people who are absolutely nuts about it, and I am only one.
I am looking forward to reading the other books by this author, too. Hopefully, I will fare better with them than I did with this one!
The Matchmaker Of Perigord – Julia Stuart
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Guillaume Ladoucette, the principal character of The Matchmaker Of Perigord, has enjoyed the taste of success as the only barber in the tiny French village of Amour-sur-Belle for quite a long time. Now, though, he is faced with competition – everyone seems to be going to the new barber who has set up shop nearby. Guillaume seems to be losing most of his customers, and the few loyal customers he still has left seem to be losing all of their hair! Worried about his future, Guillaume decides to close down his barbering business and take up a new profession – that of helping the residents of Amour-sur-Belle find love, as a matchmaker. How does he fare as matchmaker? Does he find love himself? You will get to know all of this and more as you read the book.
I delved into this book with great expectations, but was, sadly, utterly disappointed with it. The inhabitants of the little French village, Guillaume included, are quirky, and there are a lot of fun moments in the book. That said, there was little else in the book for me to like. The storyline is okay, with twists and turns thrown in just for the sake of their having to be there. The narration is long-winded and tiresome at times, delightful at other times. The book does have its share of brilliant moments, too.
I loved the depiction of small-village life in the book. It brought home to me the fact about how no one can have secrets in a place like that, where everyone knows everyone else and their families since generations. The book surely made me feel glad to be living in a big city!
I didn’t like this book quite as much as I had thought I would, but I do still want to read the other books by the author. Maybe I will like them better?
Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts about it/them?
What are you reading at the moment?