Ove is a fifty-nine year old Swede who has to be one of the most lovable curmudgeons in recent literary history. Is there anything to like about him? He is abrupt to the point of being rude, short-tempered, stubborn, single-minded, his way or no way. He is simply a person you really do not want to know. At the very outset of Fredrik Backman’s novel, the reader learns that Ove drives a Saab–always has and always will. He sees no reason why anyone would buy any other automobile. When his friend buys an Audi, their friendship ends.
Always a quiet individual, life deals Ove a series of emotional blows. He loses both his parents when he is relatively young, his house burns down, he loses his job. When he meets Anita he cannot believe that she could come to love him. But then the gods deal him yet another blow. She loses their child and eventually Ove loses her to cancer.
How does this bitter man become one loved by his neighbors and new friends? It isn’t easy for them or for him. But this transformational process makes this book and charming, funny story. As Ove tries to shut out all those around him, he succumbs to their requests and needs just to get rid of them. In the end, of course, they shake up his world,and he learns that life is better when it is shared.