Thursday, September 1, 2016
"Britt-Marie Was Here" by Fredrik Backman
Fredrik Backman knows how to pull on all my hearstrings. He did it first with "A Man Called Ove," and now he has done it again with "Britt-Marie Was Here." I can't wait to get off the holds list for "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry," so I can complete my Backman trifecta.
"Britt-Marie Was Here" is the story of Britt-Marie, a woman who is at a crossroads in her life after the conclusion of her marriage. Her life was previously structured around and defined by caring for her husband, so without those daily routines and responsibilities, she is adrift. But her personality does not lend itself well to idleness or relaxation. She marches into an unemployment center, and winds up with a job in the small, economically devastated town of Borg. As the recreational director for the village, she comes to know its quirky inhabitants and find a place for herself amid their lives.
Like Ove, Britt-Marie has a certain amount of the curmudgeon in her, though not quite as strongly as Ove. She is slow to let others into her life, but once she does, she is a fierce protector and advocate for them. She takes her job seriously, and is able to find new loved ones to care for to replace what she lost in the disintegration of her marriage. Perhaps best of all, the ending was utterly different from "Ove," and delightfully ambiguous and fulfilling (as I mentioned in my spoiler-tagged Goodreads review). Britt-Marie was a wonderful character with whom to spend an afternoon, and I look forward to seeing her pop up again in "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry."
Verdict: Affirmed. I'm officially here for all the Fredrik Backman books, and can't wait for his next.
"Britt-Marie Was Here" by Fredrik Backman, published May 3, 2016 by Atria Books. Audio narration by Joan Walker, published May 3, 2016 by Simon & Schuster Audio.