I read (actually listened) to this book directly after reading the review of another CBR reviewer (thanks, Narfna!), and finished it in 2 days. I rarely tear through books these days due to meddling kids always being underfoot and a demanding work schedule, but this novel was the exception. It made me want to fold an extra load of laundry, volunteer to do the dishes, and myriad other household chores so I could be left alone to linger in the world Backman created.
I won’t go into plot, as I think the unfolding of the action and development of the characters are what make this story so engaging and magical. I will say the writing is both lyrical and whimsical without collapsing under the weight of both lyricism and whimsy. I think the world-building and character development are really what enchanted and delighted me in this novel, and that the author handles each of the characters gently, and takes his time allowing them to clearly materialize. My only real quibble was the translation, which felt a tad clumsy on occasion. I wish I could have read it in the original Swedish, as I’m sure the author’s command of the language would have shone even more brightly. Alas, alack.
I don’t want to paint an entirely rosy picture here: there is talk of suicide, depression, love and lives lost, interpersonal friction, and all the trappings of real life, but for some reason in the bubble of an apartment in rural Sweden, they are addressed with dignity and kindness, and perhaps we all need more of that in our current environment.