A deeply funny and moving story
I wasn’t too sure I’d enjoy this story after reading the first few pages. It didn’t seem the same as the author’s extraordinary first book A Man called Ove. However, it didn’t take long before I became immersed in the rather special life of “nearly eight year old” Elsa.
Elsa is different. The kind of person who goes around with a red pen correcting the grammar and spelling in shop signs. She is rather intelligent and is bullied at school. Her granny is her one friend and, it turns out, is very different herself. The seven year old has thoughts and perceptive observations of the adults (and sometimes the children) she encounters as she tries to make sense of the world.
Dad likes to know what he’s getting. One time last year they rearranged the shelves in the supermarket near to where Dad and Lisette live, and Else had to run those tests she had seen advertised on television, to make sure he hadn’t had a stroke.
Elsa’s disfunctional granny and Elsa have a strong influence on each other. Her granny behaves irresponsibly, but wonderfully, most of the time.
Granny let off fireworks inside a hamburger restaurant and accidentally set fire to a seventeen-year-old girl who was dressed up as a clown and apparently supposed to be providing ‘entertainment for the children’. She really was entertaining, Elsa should say in her defence. That day, Elsa learned some of her very best swear words.
The book is beautifully inventive, humorous, emotional, witty, sarcastic, dark, scary and occasionally downright funny. As Elsa discovers more about her granny and how the people around her are all linked together, she manages to point out the absurdities in people’s thoughts and behaviours as well as each person’s “superhero” super power.
Her granny helps her by telling fairy tale stories, each having a meaning. The stories are interwoven with Elsa’s real life and, at times, the two seem to merge. Then some of the characters in the stories start to appear in real life.
The War-Without-End ended that day. The shadows were driven across the sea. And Wolfheart disappeared back into the forests. But the wurses remained, and to this day they are still serving as the princess’s personal guard in Miploris. On guard outside her castle.
Such imagination. Such a wealth of thoughts. All delivered in a masterful and entertaining way. Another extraordinary book from Fredrik Backman. Highly recommended.
Author’s web site https://www.fredrikbackmanbooks.com/