Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

  • Britt-Marie Was Here (5:10)Title:  Britt-Marie Was Here
  • Author:  Fredrik Backman
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  336
  • Published:  May 2016 – Atria Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. She eats dinner at precisely the right time and starts her day at six in the morning 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.

But at sixty-three, Britt-Marie has had enough. She finally walks out on her loveless forty-year marriage and finds a job in the only place she can: Borg, a small, derelict town devastated by the financial crisis. For the fastidious Britt-Marie, this new world of noisy children, muddy floors, and a roommate who is a rat (literally), is a hard adjustment.

As for the citizens of Borg, with everything that they know crumbling around them, the only thing that they have left to hold onto is something Britt-Marie absolutely loathes: their love of soccer. When the village’s youth team becomes desperate for a coach, they set their sights on her. She’s the least likely candidate, but their need is obvious and there is no one else to do it.

Thus begins a beautiful and unlikely partnership. In her new role as reluctant mentor to these lost young boys and girls, Britt-Marie soon finds herself becoming increasingly vital to the community. And even more surprisingly, she is the object of romantic desire for a friendly and handsome local policeman named Sven. In this world of oddballs and misfits, can Britt-Marie finally find a place where she belongs?  (publisher)

My take:  The light went out in Britt-Marie’s life when she was a young girl. Feeling pretty much invisible she lives a thankless life that lacks passion.  She finally decides to leave that life and winds up in a small town as their rec center manager. This is funny because she doesn’t know the first thing about managing a recreation center. She’s really good at cleaning though…

The town is populated with quirky characters – some who sneak up on you and break your heart. Britt-Marie has found a place where, little by little, people see her, appreciate her, and maybe even need her. She starts to find hope and a chance for a new start. Will she take that chance?

It took me a while to warm up to this novel but once I did, I really liked it. I think if you enjoyed A Man Called Ove, Backman’s first novel, you might like Britt-Marie Was Here. The author again addressed the human condition in a relatable way that now makes me smile thinking back on the people of Borg.

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15 thoughts on “Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

  1. I’m glad to see your review because I loved A Man Called Ove. But somebody I know who also loved Ove didn’t like My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry very much.

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    • While I enjoyed “Britt-Marie”, “Ove” is still my favorite. I started to read “Grandmother” but couldn’t get into it at the time so I’ll probably try it again down the road.

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  2. Mary, Thanks for your thoughts on this selection. It’s currently in my TBR pile, and I’m looking forward to meeting the quirky characters of Borg!

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  3. I enjoyed A Man Called Ove…but I could only take it in sporadically. I would read, set it aside, and read some more. But I always wanted to come back to him and his antics.

    I definitely want to read this one, too, and suspect I will also enjoy it. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. I haven’t read The Man Called Ove but it is in my sights, but I just might read this one first. I wonder what it would be like on audio. I might go down that path I think and see.

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    • Kathryn, I listened to “Ove” and loved it. I imagine it’s a different narrator for “Britt-Marie” but I say give it a try.

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  5. Still haven’t read the first one, but the title of this one grabs me. My best friend in high school was named Britt (not Brittany) and she was very protective of it 😉

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