Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

January 17, 2017 Contemporary Fiction 13

Greetings, Bookworms!

The fact that it’s cold and gray doesn’t appear to have had the desired effect on my blogging output. So much for that theory. I’m still reading, of course, in between bouts of hibernation and snacking. Yes, I’m probably part bear. Let’s not make a big deal out of it, okay? Anyhow, a while back I read A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman (review) and really dug it, so I thought I’d check out some more of his work. That’s how I came to read Britt-Marie Was Here.

Britt-Marie is sixty three years old. She’s not difficult, she just happens to like things a certain way. A well organized cutlery drawer and a thorough understanding of the virtues of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) are key to a proper life. Kent never fully appreciated the extent to which Britt-Marie kept his life in order, unfortunately, and she’s simply had enough of their loveless 40 year marriage. Once she’s left, she takes a job the only place she can find, the rather derelict town of Borg. It was once a thriving town with a large trucking company, but it was hit very hard by the financial crisis. Britt-Marie begins work attempting to bring order to the soon-to-be-demolished recreation center, and soon finds herself somehow coaching a youth soccer team.

Fredrik Backman has the market cornered on curmudgeonly older Swedes with hearts of gold, let me tell you. Over the course of the book, we learn a lot of the circumstances that shaped Britt-Marie into the woman she became, and we are privileged to witness the circumstances that surround her metamorphosis. I mean, she ends up coaching soccer, for heaven’s sake. It’s adorable.

I must admit that I was somewhat surprised by the plot of this book. For some reason, I never think of a country like Sweden having any problems. It’s one of those countries that always seems to be topping the “best countries to live in” lists. I just never thought “oh hey, I bet there are economically depressed areas of Sweden that are plagued with crime, unemployment, and general discontent.” Because I’m incapable of recognizing complexity, or something. Actually, I’ve got a quote from the book that totally works right here. Ahem: “Societies are like people in that way. If you don’t ask too many questions and don’t shift any heavy furniture around, there’s no need to notice their worst sides.” You should probably read this book. It’s a delight. Britt-Marie Was Here– check it out!

Talk to me Bookworms! What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Sweden?

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13 Responses to “Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman”

  1. Emily

    Too funny!! As the proud ‘chooser’ of A Man Called Ove for book club, I decided to follow up with Britt-Marie as well. I scrolled right through your comments so I can be left with surprises. Great minds think alike. See you next week!

  2. A.M.B.

    “I’m probably part bear.” Ha! I thought you were part penguin!

    I’ve heard wonderful things about Fredrick Backman’s books. I own A Man Called Ove, but I haven’t read it yet (I don’t know why).

  3. shanayatales

    This sounds like an interesting read. Very different from what I have read so far. I am especially curious to find out how she ended up coaching a soccer team. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    P.S. I fell off the blog reading circuit for a bit, thanks to an uber-busy schedule during the end of the year, but I am back now, and loving binge reading your previous posts.

    I am certainly going to check out The Bollywood Affair, and I guess I must do my version of the bite sized reviews, because my pending review pile is intimidating.

    • wordsfor

      Oh boy do I HEAR YOU on the falling off the blog reading circuit. Oof. I still haven’t quite made it back on. I think you will LOVE The Bollywood Affair! I haven’t been so excited about a romance in eons. I can’t wait to see how you like it!

  4. Jenny @ Reading the End

    I urgently need to tell you the first thing I think of when I think of Sweden. It’s that Swedes apparently believe that other countries believe that Swedish people kill themselves at disproportionately high rates. Swedes evidently go out of their way to assure Americans that they are NOT more suicidal than other countries, which is funny because Americans didn’t think that in the first place and probably a minimum of 70% of Americans when they meet Swedes are thinking in fact of a Jim Henson puppet with creepy human hands.

  5. wordsfor

    Oh! I’m so sad Swedes think that they’re perceived as suicidal. Also, I realize that the Swedish Chef is culturally insensitive, but I’ve got a soft spot for that Muppet.

  6. Bonnie @ For the Love of Words

    I seemed to bypass all of this authors books thinking they weren’t my thing but A Man Called Ove recently made it onto my TBR and this one sounds lovely enough to also make the list. Funny, I also consider Sweden to be the country of perfection. 🙂

  7. Heather

    But, you didn’t read My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry??? Please tell me you did. Because that’s where Britt-Marie is introduced. AND IT IS ALSO AWESOME. I loooooovvvvvvves Backman.

    • Rhian

      How much do we love Elsa and her grandmother?! I second Heather’s recommendation.

      Mr Backman has also written a novella called “And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer”. It is beautiful but heartbreaking.

Talk to me, Bookworms!