Britt-Marie Was Here

Britt-Marie Was Here

A Novel

Book - 2016 | First Atria Books hardcover edition.
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For as long as anyone can remember, Britt-Marie has been an acquired taste. It's not that she's judgmental or fussy or difficult - she just expects things to be done in a certain way. A cutlery drawer should be arranged in the right order, for example - forks, knives, then spoons. We're not animals, are we? But behind the passive-aggressive, socially awkward, absurdly pedantic busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams and a warmer heart than anyone around her realises. So when Britt-Marie finds herself unemployed, separated from her husband of 20 years, left to fend for herself in the miserable provincial backwater that is Borg - of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it - and somehow tasked with running the local football team, she is a little unprepared. But she will learn that life may have more to offer her than she's ever realised, and love might be found in the most unexpected of places.
Publisher: New York :, Atria Books,, 2016.
©2014.
Edition: First Atria Books hardcover edition.
Copyright Date: ©2014.
ISBN: 9781501142543
9781501142536
1501142534
Characteristics: 324 pages ; 24 cm.
Additional Contributors: Koch, Henning 1962-- Translator
Summary: For as long as anyone can remember, Britt-Marie has been an acquired taste. It's not that she's judgmental or fussy or difficult - she just expects things to be done in a certain way. A cutlery drawer should be arranged in the right order, for example - forks, knives, then spoons. We're not animals, are we? But behind the passive-aggressive, socially awkward, absurdly pedantic busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams and a warmer heart than anyone around her realises. So when Britt-Marie finds herself unemployed, separated from her husband of 20 years, left to fend for herself in the miserable provincial backwater that is Borg - of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it - and somehow tasked with running the local football team, she is a little unprepared. But she will learn that life may have more to offer her than she's ever realised, and love might be found in the most unexpected of places.

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princessofburundi
May 27, 2019

This was *such* a sweet book. Britt-Marie packs herself up, makes sure she has a lot of bicarbonate of soda for cleaning things, and leaves her husband. The job she gets in a tiny little town as a cleaner is perfect for her - she loves cleaning, especially with the bicarb. However, she is less happy when she's cleaning the gym and there's people to deal with. Britt-Marie is suspicious of people. It was lovely to see the redemptive qualities of this story, and watch Britt-Marie let her hair down and learn to love and like and face a world where people aren't all jerks.

i
Ilovetoread52
May 18, 2019

I absolutely loved this story. The language was difficult for me to hear. However I suppose it was fitting of the place it was representing. I wanted it to go on longer. HOPE he writes a sequel.

f
fangger
Mar 22, 2019

Such unusual stories by this author. I really liked it.

DBRL_DanaS Dec 13, 2018

Pros: Fans of A Man Called Ove or of Backman's other novels are likely to find this book a charming read. The book is a quick read and the story is warm and light.

Cons: Many characters in this one are underdeveloped and one-dimensional, and the town of Borg feels like a caricature of quirky small-town life.

s
swheeler89
Dec 04, 2018

One of the best books I read this year. Fredrik Backman is a phenomenal story teller. While some characters and references to "My Grandma Asked Me.." carry over, this is a stand alone novel that challenges you to see the best in people.

a
Annie_Sprague
Oct 16, 2018

I love books with prickly women! Marilla Cuthbert from "Anne of Green Gables", Minerva McGonagall from the "Harry Potter" series, and Olive Kitteridge.

l
Lhoutz
Jul 03, 2018

I loved this take of a modern Cinderella story that Fredrik Backman created. Britt-Marie, who is obsessive compulsive about cleaning with baking soda, is found in a foreign town with very unsavory people and finds herself changing the way she thinks. It's a very funny read if you need a break from reality filled with crude and sarcastic humor.

ArapahoeTiegan Jan 18, 2018

While I am glad Backman explored Britt-Marie a little further beyond My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, I found this story a little difficult to get through, and ultimately a bit disappointing. I was rooting for Britt-Marie - at the end of My Grandmother Asked Me.. she leaves her cheating husband and sets out to find her own life and figure out who she really is, as she lost herself in living her life for her husband for so many years. She ends up in a tiny town and slowly becomes one of the accepted residents - she has quite an effect on some people, and they all have an effect on her. I found it unrealistic that her husband just shows up after seeing their relationship dynamic in My Grandmother Asked Me... Everything sort of went downhill from there in the story. While it did sort of end on a high note for Britt-Marie, which I was afraid would not happen, it felt kind of like a write-off ending with how quickly it wrapped up and it was pretty unsatisfying. But the rest of the story and the connections Britt-Marie made almost make it worth it.

o
ownedbydoxies
Oct 27, 2017

A very light read, but kind of fun at the same time, and I liked that the ending wasn't tied up in a complete little good-news knot at the end. It's a good one to read if you're out of really interesting stuff and need something to while away a few hours.

b
Blabbermouth
Sep 28, 2017

A heart warming story. Britt-Marie's marriage is over & she finds a job & a new place to live in a small town that is in the process of dying. In this town she meets all sorts of quirky, endearing people, she gets involved with a soccer competition & starts learning about what she wants for herself.
Fredrik Backman has a funny, warm style of writing that keeps me invested all the way.

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KaseyNB
Apr 13, 2017

“One morning you wake up with more life behind you than in front of you, not being able to understand how it’s happened.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 13, 2017

“At a certain age almost all the questions a person asks him or herself are really just about one thing: how should you live your life?”

s
slang123
Jun 01, 2016

"Sometimes it's easier to go on living, not even knowing who you are, when at least you know precisely where you are while you go on not knowing."

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SPL_Robyn Nov 02, 2016

Have you ever wondered how much influence the mere presence of a person can have in a town? Or if a solitary, eccentricity-ridden woman of a certain age could ever change her story more than half-way through her life?
These are not questions Britt-Marie has ever asked herself, and she certainly would never describe herself as eccentric in any way – what would people think? She is preoccupied by how others might perceive her, yes. She has total faith in baking soda and Faxin to clean just about anything, and is a compulsive list-maker, yes. And cutlery drawers must be arranged in precisely the correct way, yes.
She also had complete trust in and reliance on her husband Kent for forty years. Now that she is alone, Britt-Marie has one quest: to make sure she does not die forgotten. And although her life story – of her mother, her sister, her husband and step-children – is revealed as slowly as air escaping a leaking tire, it is when Britt-Marie finds herself in a dying town called Borg that she really begins to live. It may seem like a meager life, being a caretaker in an old recreation centre, but the reticent residents of Borg and taciturn Britt-Marie are kindred spirits in an odd way, and where kinship blooms, so does hope. Oh, and football, too.
Backman uses football (soccer) as a metaphor for optimism the way Leafs fans would use hockey. But it is his depiction of Britt-Marie that is most admirable, and his readers are gently pulled from irritation with his unlikely heroine into a warm understanding of this woman who has no real understanding of herself. Britt-Marie lives inside her own head with her own peculiar motivations driving her, but Backman almost surreptitiously reveals how the town begins to open up to her, and how – most astonishing to her – Britt-Marie finds herself reciprocating their support.
For fans of Scandinavian literature akin to Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, or for fans of soccer, Fredrik Backman does not disappoint. Both quirky and tender and - Britt-Marie gets her wish – not easily forgotten.

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