Thursday, July 20, 2017

Fredrik Backman Was Here





 Fredrik Backman first drifted into my line of vision last Christmas when oldest daughter and I were lazing  on the beach, discussing books. You have to read A Man Called Ove, she said, and promised to send it to me as soon as she and her boys were done with it.

Meantime, I found it at the library and read it myself. It was more than a little crazy but I enjoyed it. Then one day, checking the shelves at my favourite 'bookstore' (the local St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop) I found My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry - brand new, a bargain at 99c. Added it to the teetering pile where it sat until last week when I tucked Grandmother into my bag as we set out for South Carolina.

 Fourteen year old grandson's baseball team was playing there in a week-long tournament. They were making a road trip and some beach time out of it and we planned to meet them and see all the games and marvel at daughter's new, short, hairstyle and at how the boys had grown.



Baseball has always mystified me, almost as much as its cousin, cricket. But, by the end of the week, I was cheering with the best of them though (shh!) I have to admit that, embarassingly, I was sometimes cheering for the other team. A good hit's a good hit, right? And a good run's a good run. They're just kids after all, even if they are taller than us!

Back in our room in the evenings I started the book. And was totally captivated. More so than with Ove though I loved him too, just maybe not quite as much as daughter who admitted she had still not finished Ove. Seriously? Since Christmas?  "I just didn't want it to end!" she explained. I could understand that. Those are the best kind of books!

Grandmother's cast of characters was even zanier and the plot more bizarre. I couldn't put it down. The boys were off on the beach with team mates and frisbees between games, so no one minded when this grandmother opted to not go down and get blistered on the beach, but to sit overlooking it from the blissful shade of their balcony.




The younger folks dipped in the water and rolled in the sand and basted themselves in sunscreen....
which I used to think was grand when I was their age but, decades later, with an uneasy, ongoing relationship with a dermatologist, my enthusiasm is somewhat diminished. The beach in December is one thing, the beach in July quite another.

The pages kept turning and, when we found Backman's third book,"Britt-Marie Was Here," on a bookstore prowl, they started turning even faster so I could leave Grandmother with daughter and take Britt-Marie home, with promises to send her north as soon as done. Grandmother was a rollicking read and I didn't want it to end. Daughter may be onto something....

 Our team didn't win but they played well and had fun.



They won this one, obviously!

Younger g'randson is a tennis and lacrosse man but stayed busy all week helping out with the team, reading and relaxing between times!




And now we are home. I have just finished reading Britt-Marie and I have to agree with the blurb on the cover. It's his 'truest, most satisfying book to date.' Peopled with oddballs and misfits, you find yourself laughing uncontrollably one minute, close to tears the next. As lighthearted as the books seem though, it would be a mistake to dismiss them as flippant. The profound wisdom between the lines catches you by surprise. The theme running through all of Backman's writing is about how we should live our lives - with  compassion and passion.

'....passion is worth something, not for what it gives us but for what it demands that we risk. Our dignity. The puzzlement of others and their condescending, shaking heads.' (Britt-Marie Was Here, P.262')

As much as I wanted Britt-Marie to go on forever, I did finish it, cheered by the fact that Backman's latest book was published in April. I already have it on hold at the library.

13 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Oooh. Thank you for the reminder. I have wanted to read A Man Called Ove for a while - and it keeps slipping my consciousness. And now I have some more to lust after. Hopefully our library has them.

gz said...

I need to get back to reading books...but there is only one of me!!

dianne said...

i always lose points for cheering on everyone ... my grandbabies think i should pick a side, but i'm a flip-flopper by Nature...

i do, however, have an opinion about beaches and sun - and it is UGH.

Marigold Jam said...

How strange I have Britt-Marie Was Here in my pile from the library this week and am yet to read it so now I am wondering if I need to read Ove first to get the best from it? I will look out for Grandmother too. I had to laugh when reading that you don't really understand cricket as I have a friend who loves it and is glues to the radio when any match of importance is on and when she told me the scther it meant we were winning or losing and she was shocked at my ignorance!ore one day I had to ask whe

Dee said...

Dear Molly, thanks so much for sharing your response to the books. I'll go from your blog to the library blog to see if it has the three books you mentioned. The book I remember not wanting to finish was "The Golden Warrior," which was about Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon king. I fell in love with him and just didn't want to get to the Battle of Hastings because I knew he'd die.Ultimately I did finish and cried like a baby.

As to baseball: I'm a real fan. My dad introduced me to the game when I was very young. In grade school, I played second base for the girls' softball team for three years. I was a lousy batter, but really loved the game. I agree with you that a good hit by either side is a good hit! and a good catch, the same!

Peace.

Molly Bon said...


EC - I hope you find them!

gz - One book at a time! Though I don't always follow that rule. Just as I have several quilting projects on the go at any given time, I often have several books too. If you're not in the mood for one you can always pick up one of the others....

Dianne - what are you, a polar bear? Just as well I suppose since CO isn't exactly awash in beaches. But you have sking there - those boys love to ski!

Marigold - Each book stands alone. You can enjoy Britt-Marie without having read the others. But reading them in order would accustom you to his whacky humor which peaks in Britt...

Dee - You've mentioned that book before. I may have to add it to the pile!

Colette said...

There is nothing like a good book! I'm glad you were able to see your grandson's games. Those shows of support man so much to these kids.

Molly Bon said...


Colette - The grandsons are fortunate in having lots of support -from parents,school, community. Britt-Marie is about the lack of any support, both in her life and in the lives of a bunch of soccer loving kids and how, when they provide that kind of support for each other, lives suddenly change and blossom. I think I'm going to read it again.

Pam said...

Never heard of those books. But I already have a big pile... Still....

Pam said...

PS I'm with Dianne on sun and sand. Sand gets EVERYWHERE. I like walking along firm sand with my shoes on, on a warmish day but I do sitting on beaches on a hot day only for the grandchildren's sake (and in fact there isn't much actual sitting down with them).

Molly Bon said...


Pam - Irish skin tolerates sun about as well as Scottish skin. While the water on Irish beaches is freeeeezing, I love long walks on them, especially in the company of my sister. And because of said freeeezing water, they tend to be much less crowded.

And there's always room for one more book on those piles.....

Secret Agent Woman said...

A Man Called Ove is on my to-read list. I've got a stack I'm working through!

Molly Bon said...


SAW - Like I said to Pam - there's always room for one more! Unless(God forbid)I go blind I'll never work to the bottom of my stack because as soon as I finish one and remove it, two more have somehow found their way onto it. No complaints though. It's nice to have choices and sometimes I pull out the bottom book so it doesn't give up hope!