Review: Britt-Marie Was Here

Britt-Marie Was Here, Fredrick Backman

Publication: May 3rd 2016 by Atria Books

Hardcover, 336 pages

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

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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?

Anyone who talks to me about books will realize I haven’t shut up about Fredrick Backman’s A Man Called Ove.  That book touched my heart and since then Backman is someone I recommend often for an excellent and feel good read.  

I first met Britt-Marie in Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You I’m Sorry – and I wasn’t sure I was entirely a fan of her.  She’s a bit of a nag bag, to borrow Backman’s term, and not really a happy person.  But once you start to learn her story you see how Britt-Marie found herself slipping away and why she’s become so persnickety and prickly.  

Britt-Marie leaves her boorish husband Kent behind and takes the only job offered to her, heading the recreation center in the dying town of Borg.  Britt-Marie despises soccer, which of course is the one true love of the residents of Borg and she finds herself coaching the children’s soccer club so that they can play in a local tournament.  You can guess where this goes, but I don’t think you will be entirely correct.  

So was this a bit cheesy  – for sure.  Did I eat it up with a spoon and love it as it went down – completely.  Britt-Marie was not as curmudgeonly as my beloved Ove and perhaps not so complicated, but I still adored her in the end.  I will say Backman left me nervous until the very end about what lessons Britt-Marie had learned and how brave she could be.

So when you want a feel good read – no tears this time – read Britt-Marie Was Here!

Thank you Atria Books and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

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7 Comments

  1. I just received my ARC for this novel and I cannot wait to start it. I haven’t read any of Frederik Backman’s books – in fact, I only heard of him recently – but they all sound like wonderful reads!

  2. I’ve not read Backman before and stalled on this one. It is a minor thing, but the character called Somebody made me insane. My mind could not accept that as a name and so every time I saw it I had to stop and think, ‘Well, who just did this? Or said that?’ It completely killed the flow of the book for me. I’m going to wait a bit and go back because I can see the appeal.

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