Book Review: Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

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Author Fredrik Backman is in my TOP 5 writers of all time. I’ve read 4 of his books now, and they always have a profound impact on me. I’m hoping to finish reading them all this year which is why Britt-Marie Was Here made it to my September TBR. If you’re familiar with his work, it’s a combination of ‘A Man Called Ove’ and ‘Beartown’ in terms of the love of sport, the human condition’s intensity, and the desire for a different life. All in all, I gave it 4.25 stars as it was better than a 4 but I couldn’t round up to a 5 on this one.

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Britt-Marie is in her early 60s and has left her husband, Kent, after she caught him cheating on her via the other woman taking him to the hospital as he had a heart attack. Although she’s independent, Britt-Marie has been cared for too long by others to know exactly how to survive on her own. She succeeds on many levels when she moves to a town, Borg, not too far away from home to get her first outside-of-the-home job since she was a waitress right after high school and right before marrying Kent. In Borg, life is basically listless, scarce, and penniless. It’s been hit by a financial crisis and no one has money for anything. Britt-Marie does her best to find a way to make the move to a new job and a new residence something positive, but it doesn’t go very smoothly at first. In time, she evolves into a more open-minded individual, yet her core beliefs remain stalwart. She’s ornery but lovable, kind but too direct, thoughtful but not very worldly. It makes her human like the rest of us.

Backman’s style is usually on-point when it comes to connecting with his readers. This book is no exception; however, there were several sections with either translation issues (it wasn’t originally written in English) or a purposed attempt to write in a different manner from what he’s shown us before. Examples include frequent repetition of words or phrases that it became too obvious. Was it intended or just the translation — I’m not certain, but it caused me to stumble a fair number of times. Another concern was a general casualization (yep, I’m making up words) of some characters where I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to root for them or ignore them. The end result was some felt too similar while others felt strong but underused given their purpose in the story.

That said, the rest is amazing. I felt the connection between Britt-Marie and everyone she meets who changes her life. I saw the lackluster relationship with Kent but understood why she couldn’t leave him. I felt the pain of what her childhood resulted in when it came to how she viewed herself and let others view her. I adored the way she persistently nagged the unemployment office employee only to become the woman’s bright hope for the future. It’s only when an author is an innate talent can these types of well-embedded structures, depths, and life perceptions be truly integrated into a story. That’s where, how, and why Backman leads the race when it comes to producing truly remarkable stories.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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38 thoughts on “Book Review: Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

    delphini510 said:
    September 16, 2018 at 5:23 PM

    Hi Jay, I so agree with you about Fredrick Backman. He is a superb authour,
    sensitive, bright and knows how to make you feel totally involved with every charachter.
    You are right that translation at times causes a problem. His books are written in
    Swedish and there are many times when direct translation doesn’t work. You need
    a relevant expression in the other language.

    Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 16, 2018 at 8:06 PM

      Glad to be in the same bucket with you. Have you read this one before? I would love to read in another language well enough to understand the context. I do fairly well in Spanish, but not being a native speaker, I feel like I always lose a little bit.

      Liked by 1 person

        delphini510 said:
        September 17, 2018 at 2:22 PM

        I think you are right, we do lose a little when reading translated books.
        Unless the translator are properly bilingual. Lived both languages.
        A good translation though should not be a problem …
        I have Britt-was here waiting to be read.

        miriam

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        September 17, 2018 at 5:55 PM

        I recently heard about the movie being made, that should be fun, too!

        Like

    Colline said:
    September 16, 2018 at 6:48 PM

    I have yet to read one of his books. I have bought Beartown and intend to read it soonish.

    Liked by 1 person

    Lisa@LismorePaper said:
    September 16, 2018 at 7:52 PM

    Another book to add to the list. Great review! 😊💗

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 16, 2018 at 8:05 PM

      Sorry! I’m really bad for the TBR. Backman is definitely a must-read. Ove first, then Beartown… this wouldn’t be the first recommendation for him tho.

      Like

    AJ said:
    September 16, 2018 at 8:14 PM

    I love that author! I always have a difficult time getting into his books, but by the end I love them!

    Liked by 1 person

    allthingsmommablog said:
    September 16, 2018 at 8:21 PM

    I’ve only read A Man Called Over by this author before, but keep meaning to get to the others. I really enjoyed the one book I have read.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 16, 2018 at 9:33 PM

      He’s fantastic. This wasn’t the best one but I really liked it. Go with beartown even though it’s sports centric in case that’s not a normal topic for you. It isn’t for me but it was an amazing book.

      Liked by 1 person

    Azia said:
    September 16, 2018 at 8:22 PM

    I haven’t read anything by Frederick Backman but the way you described this book really makes me want to. Thanks for the introduction! I’ll have to give one of his works a try sometime in my life 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Martie said:
    September 16, 2018 at 8:32 PM

    This sounds so good.

    Liked by 1 person

    Jaymi at OrangeCountyReaders said:
    September 16, 2018 at 9:29 PM

    Such a great review. I just finished bear town and profound is a good way to describe Mr. Backman writing. I need to read this one too!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 16, 2018 at 9:35 PM

      Such an amazing author. Have you read a man called Ove?

      Liked by 1 person

        Jaymi at OrangeCountyReaders said:
        September 16, 2018 at 9:44 PM

        I did read Ove and loved it. Tell Grandma was good but I didn’t connect the same way. Have you visited Mr. Bakmans webpage/blog? There’s a recent post that was very insightful and honest about his anxiety and mental health. Goes to show, yet again, how you really never know what someone is battling.

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        September 16, 2018 at 9:52 PM

        No I haven’t. I will do that tomorrow. Thank you for the heads up.

        Liked by 1 person

    Lashaan (Bookidote) said:
    September 16, 2018 at 9:51 PM

    Translation issues is always so tricky. This is an author I’ve heard great things about, especially from you in the past. I’m glad to hear that it wasn’t a disappointment though and still has everything the author is usually known for in it! Great review, Jay.

    Liked by 1 person

    Phantom Paper said:
    September 17, 2018 at 2:15 AM

    Well articulated review!

    Liked by 1 person

    Beware Of The Reader said:
    September 17, 2018 at 6:35 AM

    I have yet to read this one Jay. Now you mentioning translation is important as I praised the translator for Beartown because it must not be an easy job! Wonderful review 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 17, 2018 at 7:36 AM

      Thanks! Exactly… I think it’s the same translator, and this was one of Backman’s first books, so it may have been style evolving over time?

      Like

    Aj @ Read All The Things! said:
    September 17, 2018 at 9:10 AM

    Fredrik Backman is one of my favorites, too! I’ve read 4 of his books, including this one. I love that his characters are so quirky. I’ve noticed that translated books often have weird writing issues. Sometimes I can ignore them, and sometimes they get irritating. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    carhicks said:
    September 17, 2018 at 6:48 PM

    I also love Fredrick Backman. This is the second book of his that I read, maybe that is what caused some of the issues you noted, but overall, I love his writing. I think my favorite book was A Man Called Ove. Not sure if that is because Ove was so much like my husband or not. Great review as usual Jay.

    Liked by 1 person

    thebookwormdrinketh said:
    September 20, 2018 at 11:13 AM

    Sounds like a great read!! I love it when you make up words. 😂😂
    I do wonder if the repetition and difference in narrative WAS on purpose or not… It would definitely be interesting to find out… 🤔🤔

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 20, 2018 at 1:01 PM

      It definitely was for part of it… as it made the story more interesting, but there was a little too much! I just started another of his books and this character pops up again a lot. We’ll see if it’s the same or not.

      Liked by 1 person

    hemingwayandchardonnay said:
    October 4, 2018 at 7:54 PM

    I’ve seen this author’s work so many times and haven’t had a chance to read their work. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

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