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Archive for the ‘Britt-Marie Was Here’ Category

An abandoned town and an abandoned woman. Borg is the town. Only those people who couldn’t get out remain there. Britt-Marie is the abandoned woman. Taken for granted by her husband for so many years, having an extra-marital affair, nothing positive to say about her, she finally walks out. How the latter made her way to the former, is the beginning of this wonderful novel, Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrick Backman.┬áThis is definitely one of the best novels I’ve read this year.

Britt-Marie was a character in Backman’s previous novel, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, not a pivotal character as was her husband, Kent, who plays a large role in this story as well. A woman with no skills other than house keeping, Britt-Marie finds herself in need of a job. After pestering the woman at the employment agency, as only Britt-Marie can do, she lands a three week assignment as the caretaker of a derelict recreation center scheduled to be razed. An impulsive cleaner, Britt-Marie’s first task is to clean the space from top to bottom, several times over, regardless of the rec center’s impending doom. When several children come in to watch a soccer match, she is startled. Thus begins a relationship between Britt-Marie and the town that is unusual at the very least and unbelievable at the very best.

Many young adult novels are described as ‘coming of age.’ If it is at all possible for a 60+ year old woman to come of age, then Britt-Marie does so in this book. Having spent all her days in the service of someone else, her mother and her husband, leaving Kent was the first thing she had ever done for herself. Surviving in Borg, a town that everyone has given up on, building her self esteem, is no easy feat.

Backman has a way with words. An example: Soccer is an important element in the book. He writes of the town’s rag tag team, “One of the boys takes aim at the fence but instead manages to shoot the ball right back to Britt-Marie, which, if you consider the angle, is quite an impressive feat as far as under-achievements go.” The cast of characters is most unusual and most lovable.

I was not warned, but I will warn you…you will, without a doubt, need a box of tissues at the end. Don’t say I didn’t tell you if you fail to follow my instructions.

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Start with My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. Move on to Britt-Marie was Here and in between read A Man Called Ove. The perfect reading list.

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