A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was an absolute delight. Laugh-out-loud funny, with interesting characters, but it will also tug at your heart. Ove has lost his wife, the love of his life, and all sense of purpose. In his grief and despair, he plans to kill himself, (but only if conditions meets his sense of what is proper). Needless to say, he gets interrupted repeatedly by neighbors needing him for one thing or another. He even becomes something of a local hero when he plans to jump in front of a passing train and ends up rescuing a man who has fallen on the tracks. We alternate between the present day and episodes from Ove’s past that explain how he became the man he is, and he learns to find the man that he WAS.

Description: Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon – the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

Audiobook narrated by George Newbern.

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The Land of Dreams

The Land of DreamsThe Land of Dreams by Vidar Sundstøl
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first book in the “Minnesota” trilogy, this won the Riverton Prize for best Norwegian crime novel in 2008 and was named by Dagbladet as one of the top twenty-five Norwegian crime novels of all time. My three-star rating probably reflects my fatigue for current reading projects and book club books, and it’s time to read something just for fun! Although written by a Norwegian, the author spent two years living on the North Shore of Lake Superior. This is a brilliant evocation of the people, history and culture of the area. So 5 stars for atmosphere. The style I think is typically Scandinavian – spare, dark, and haunting. It’s as much a psychological study as it is a murder mystery. The pace drags and gets bogged down in details from time to time. If you don’t live in Minnesota, the details of history and geography could be boring. We learn far more about Lance and his conflicted life than anything to do with the murder. And, as the final line shows (“This is just the beginning, he thought.”), nothing is resolved by the end of the book. If you really, really like atmospheric noir and conflicted narrators, this is probably a great book and you’ll go on to read the other two. I want something different now.

Book Description: The grandson of Norwegian immigrants, Lance Hansen is a U.S. Forest Service officer and has a nearly all-consuming passion for local genealogy and history. But his quiet routines are shattered one morning when he comes upon a Norwegian tourist brutally murdered near a stone cross on the shore of Lake Superior. Another Norwegian man is nearby; covered in blood and staring out across the lake, he can only utter the word kjærlighet. Love. FBI agent Bob Lecuyer is assigned to the case, as is Norwegian detective Eirik Nyland, who is immediately flown in from Oslo. As the investigation progresses, Lance begins to make shocking discoveries—including one that involves the murder of an Ojibwe man on the very same site more than one hundred years ago. As Lance digs into two murders separated by a century, he finds the clues may in fact lead toward someone much closer to home than he could have imagined.

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