Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
First Published: May 3, 2016
First Line: "Forks. Knives. Spoons."
Book Description from GoodReads: From the bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, a heartwarming and hilarious story of a reluctant outsider who transforms a tiny village and a woman who finds love and second chances in the unlikeliest of places.
Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. She eats dinner at precisely the right time and starts her day at six in the morning because only lunatics wake up later than that. And she is not passive-aggressive. Not in the least. It's just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention.
But at sixty-three, Britt-Marie has had enough. She finally walks out on her loveless forty-year marriage and finds a job in the only place she can: Borg, a small, derelict town devastated by the financial crisis. For the fastidious Britt-Marie, this new world of noisy children, muddy floors, and a roommate who is a rat (literally), is a hard adjustment.
As for the citizens of Borg, with everything that they know crumbling around them, the only thing that they have left to hold onto is something Britt-Marie absolutely loathes: their love of soccer. When the village’s youth team becomes desperate for a coach, they set their sights on her. She’s the least likely candidate, but their need is obvious and there is no one else to do it.
Thus begins a beautiful and unlikely partnership. In her new role as reluctant mentor to these lost young boys and girls, Britt-Marie soon finds herself becoming increasingly vital to the community. And even more surprisingly, she is the object of romantic desire for a friendly and handsome local policeman named Sven. In this world of oddballs and misfits, can Britt-Marie finally find a place where she belongs?
Zany and full-of-heart, Britt-Marie Was Here is a novel about love and second chances, and about the unexpected friendships we make that teach us who we really are and the things we are capable of doing.
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars
My Review: Unlike most reviewers of this book I'm feeling like a big old cranky grump in the Britt-Marie love fest but I just didn't like this book. This comes as a shock since I loved A Man Called Ove and liked My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologizes but I'm unfortunately starting to see a downward trend with Backman's books and how much I enjoy them.
This book felt a little like Ove-Light with Britt-Marie picking up the curmudgeonly reigns but without the aplomb or heart of Ove. Sure, she's finicky and opinionated and had some funny moments with her 'compliments' of others but one cannot live on insults and awkward exchanges alone. Britt-Marie has a heart underneath all her obsessive cleaning and nit-picking but readers are going to have to be patient ... and like reading about soccer.
Readers get some insider information as to why Britt-Marie is the way she is due to her life experiences and it was touching to see how desperately she wanted to be seen in her own right. But I think that these touching and even funny moments were too rare and in between there was a lot of ... not much. Small town life, many characters and even an odd, and frustrating character who Britt-Marie referred to as "Somebody" which got really confusing when she was referred to at the beginning of a sentence.
Britt-Marie Was Here has some good messages and a couple of touching moments but it's a very slow paced read and I'm sad to say that by three-quarters of the way in I had almost given up. I was bored. In the end I forced myself to finish it and while it did get a little better towards the end when you also add in the lack of closure I can't say I was a fan of this book.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.