A Man Called Ove by Fredric Backman
Synopsis: Ove spends his days patrolling his neighborhood, making sure the bikes are placed in the correct area, that cars obey traffic signs, and that his garage is locked. But when new neighbors move in, they prevent Ove from carrying out his plans. As Ove’s solitary existence is challenged by neighbors left and right, Ove realizes that he still has more to fight for.
I love this book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think of my grandpa. Ove is the quintessential grumpy old man, but as the story progresses; we get a glimpse as to why Ove ignores some basic social rules. What we, as the reader, begin to see is that Ove is not a modern man. He is a man who only says what he will do—little more, little less. What’s also amazing about this book, besides Ove as a character, is the love story that is revealed through flashbacks. It’s always a little annoying when a male author writes a male lead character that the novel isn’t characterized as anything other than fiction. But, in my opinion, this is one of the greatest love stories. Rich and deep, it is poignant and bittersweet. Love, not just romantic love, is represented in all of its forms. A great picture of the beauty of life. I can’t say enough about this book.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Synopsis: Nella Oortman can’t help but be offended by the wedding present from her new husband; what eighteen year-old woman, newly married wants to play with a toy? Nella quickly feels neglected and lonely as the new Mrs. Johannes Brandt but can’t help but be captivated by the exquisite details and beauty of the miniature home, their home. Nella begins to believe that the miniatures, and the miniaturist that supplies them, are much more in tune to her household than she.
I picked up this book at a store in a mall in England (yes, in England their malls still have bookstores) because the title and the time period interested me. Although the cover is not completely blue (the back cover and spine are solid blue), I am going to cheat and use for the challenge because it is set in Amsterdam and everyone is familiar with Delft Blue. In this plot-driven story I kept finding myself thinking it was getting “curiouser and curiouser”. And to its credit, I only mildly suspected one of the many twists and turns throughout the novel, but was more often sitting on the couch with my eyebrows raised making my surprised face. So put away your verkeerspel, put on your patterns, get your favorite puffert or olie–koechken, and spend some guilders for this story.