Published by Simon and Schuster on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Fiction, General, Humorous, Literary
Hardcover provided by Atria Books, BEA 2016
The bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry returns with an irresistible novel about finding love and second chances in the most unlikely of places.
Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. A disorganized cutlery drawer ranks high on her list of unforgivable sins. She begins her day at 6 a.m., because only lunatics wake up later than that. And she is not passive-aggressive. Not in the least. It's just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention. She is not one to judge others—no matter how ill-mannered, unkempt, or morally suspect they might be.
But hidden inside the socially awkward, fussy busybody is a woman who has more imagination,bigger dreams, and a warmer heart that anyone around her realizes.
When Britt-Marie walks out on her cheating husband and has to fend for herself in the miserable backwater town of Borg—of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it—she is more than a little unprepared. Employed as the caretaker of a soon-to-be demolished recreation center, the fastidious Britt-Marie has to cope with muddy floors, unruly children, and a (literal) rat for a roommate. She finds herself being drawn into the daily doings of her fellow citizens, an odd assortment of miscreants, drunkards, layabouts—and a handsome local policeman whose romantic attentions to Britt-Marie are as unmistakable as they are unwanted. Most alarming of all, she’s given the impossible task of leading the supremely untalented children’s soccer team to victory. In this small town of big-hearted misfits, can Britt-Marie find a place where she truly belongs?
Funny and moving, observant and humane, Britt-Marie Was Here celebrates the unexpected friendships that change us forever, and the power of even the gentlest of spirits to make the world a better place.
This was a delight to read. Britt-Marie is such a funny character. She reminds me of Amelia Bedelia from my childhood reading. I am sure she would be horrified to hear that. 63 year old Britt-Marie takes things quite literally and doesn’t understand sarcasm. She doesn’t have a real sense of humor and doesn’t understand when people laugh at her. Britt-Marie had a very sheltered life. She married young and let her husband do the working outside the home. She took time off to take care for his children (from a different marriage) and the she took care of his mother. When she found out her husband was cheating she decided she had had enough. Britt-Marie ventures out into the world and gets a job, and eventually changes a whole town.
The book takes place….somewhere in Europe. This story was originally written in another language but I didn’t see any issues with translation. The thing that clued me in was that soccer is everyone’s sport. Her husband Kent watches a lot of soccer. Everyone has a favorite team and it ends up saying a lot about the type of person they are.
This story starts off with Britt-Marie at the unemployment office. She puts the poor girl in the unemployment office through hell as she quietly demands a job. The girl ends up giving her a temporary position as the caretaker of a recreational center in a town that is dying off. Britt-Marie has never taken charge of her life before. This is the first time in a long time she has been on her own without Kent to steer her life. Britt-Marie is full of quirks and old world views. She is a bit neurotic and obsessive. Britt-Marie ends up the reluctant soccer coach for a “team” without a prayer.
Britt-Marie struggles with something a lot of can relate to, how to be remembered. Without her husband to travel through life with (and for), her thoughts on this were more immediate in that she doesn’t just want to die and have no one notice. Britt-Marie worries that it might be too late to leave a legacy. Even though it seems improbable, she works her way into everyone’s thoughts and hearts.
I enjoyed this story so much. The whole town is full of fun and lovable characters. The team of children all grow to love Britt-Marie. Nothing gets resolved right away and Britt-Marie grows so much as a character throughout the story. This was a fun and quick read that I would recommend to anyone who want a story to lift their spirits.