cover image Britt-Marie Was Here

Britt-Marie Was Here

Fredrik Backman, trans. from the Swedish by Henning Koch. Atria, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5011-4253-6

The bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with this heartwarming story about a woman rediscovering herself after a personal crisis. Sixty-three-year-old Britt-Marie is a gentle, extremely straightforward and believably flawed protagonist who, after walking out on her husband of 40 years, gets a job as the caretaker of the almost-defunct Recreational Center in the fictional European town of Borg. Here she meets several characters including two young children—Vega and Omar, whose off-beat personalities and lifestyles contribute to her growing self-confidence and growth. Backman reveals Britt-Marie’s need for order and her obsession with bicarbonate soda and Faxin—a cleaning agent—with clear, tight descriptions. The true highlight is Backman’s exposition of Britt-Marie’s subtle actions—like the way she rubs her ring finger—and thoughts. These details of Britt-Marie’s character, what her husband cited as her being “socially incompetent,” increasingly endear her to the reader. Insightful and touching, this is a sweet and inspiring story about truth and transformation. Fans of Backman’s will find another winner in these pages. (May)