/FREDRIK BACKMAN | My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry

FREDRIK BACKMAN | My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry

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In my opinion, after reading A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman was an author whose books were written to be devoured.  I was so enthralled with the first novel of his that I read, that I began to research his writing.  I was excited to discover that his novel entitled Bear Town was receiving rave reviews.  In fact, during one of my forays into the bookshops to search for a good read, and before reading A Man Called Ove, I had literally picked up Bear Town contemplating whether it would be worth the 795 pesos.  Unfortunately, after reading that the novel revolved around the sport of ice hockey, I lost interest.  After all, the chance of encountering ice hockey in the Philippines was pretty scarce!

Now that I had read the rave reviews I was intrigued to delve deeper but – as luck would have it – every bookshop that I explored no longer had copies available.  There were clearly a lot of eager readers in Manila and environs that had also read the rave reviews about Bear Town!  The kind folk at Fully Booked at Alabang Town Centre were kind enough to search their other branches for a copy of the novel and would contact me once they had successfully sourced a copy.

In the meantime what was I – now an avid fan of Fredrik Backman – supposed to do?  So it was back to the bookshelves and I found the novel with the intriguing title of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.  I was not disappointed.

No one can accuse Fredrik Backman of being a one trick pony.  Although this novel deals once again with a small Swedish community and once again you as the reader are introduced to a set of delightfully eccentric characters, the main plot is very different. The main character is a young girl, Elsa, who has recently lost her beloved grandmother.  The grandmother was clearly a strong character who had in some way annoyed a number of the neighbours living in their apartment building.  She leaves a series of letters for Elsa to deliver to these neighbours who were, in one way or another, on the receiving end of her grandmother’s waspish character.  Through this enforced interaction with the neighbours, the young Elsa begins to learn more about her late grandmother and comes to a deeper understanding of her various neighbours.

Interspersed with this plot, Fredrik Backman, weaves an intriguing subplot based on the mythical tales that Elsa’s grandmother used to tell her grand-daughter. I will not spoil your read, but these mythical tales serve an important role in the novel.  By the way, do not be misled by the cover of the novel.  The black animal next to the little girl on the cover is not a dog…it is a wurse!  Yes, a wurse…and if you want to find out more about this extraordinary creature then you will just have to get yourself a copy of this novel.  Be prepared to be drawn into the fascinating world of young Elsa as she discovers a lot more about who her grandmother was and the impact she had on, not only the neighbours, but the world!

I must also extend a grateful thanks to Fully Booked in Alabang Town Centre, who, true to their word, traced a copy of Bear Town and informed me that it was awaiting collection at their branch.  Great service and Bear Town will be the topic of my next review.  

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