- 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.