I fell in love with Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises, and now, I’ve just developed a crush on Britt-Marie Was Here. What is about his writing that gets me? I think it’s the way he taps into whimsy, delight, oddness and the sometimes elusive inner child. Here’s the blurb:
For as long as anyone can remember, Britt-Marie has been an acquired taste. It’s not that she’s judgemental, or fussy, or difficult – she just expects things to be done in a certain way. A cutlery drawer should be arranged in the right order, for example (knives, forks, then spoons). We’re not animals, are we?
But behind the passive-aggressive, socially awkward, absurdly pedantic busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams and a warmer heart than anyone around her realizes.So when Britt-Marie finds herself unemployed, separated from her husband of 20 years, left to fend for herself in the miserable provincial backwater that is Borg – of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it – and somehow tasked with running the local football team, she is a little unprepared. But she will learn that life may have more to offer her that she’s ever realised, and love might be found in the most unexpected of places.
This book made me laugh. And it made me want to meet the main character, Britt-Marie. Backman has an uncanny way of making readers love his oddball characters, kind of like Graeme Simsion in The Rosie Project. Britt-Marie is strange, yes, but she’s also full of heart, a deep thinker, and someone who’s been taken advantage of. What she wants most of all is for someone to know and care that she was here (the “You are here” part on her map is her favourite), because for most of her life, she’s felt invisible and second best. Her arrival in Borg does not go unnoticed and leaves no one in doubt that she is very much present – it just takes a while for her to realise that not only is she noticed, but people like having her around. And in the end, she has some choices to make about how life will go forward.
A funny and tender tale, this is feel-good reading exactly the way I like it.
Available from good bookstores (RRP $29.99AUD). My copy was courtesy of Hachette.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television