Sunday, August 02, 2020

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry - Fredrik Backman

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, published in 2015, is the second of Fredrik Backman’s five novels, all five of which have been successfully published in the United States. The book centers around a precocious little seven-year old called Elsa and her seventy-seven-year-old grandmother, but it also introduces Britt-Marie, who is the headliner of Backman’s third novel, Britt-Marie Was Here. And now, for readers like me who have read all five of the Backman novels, comes the good news that a new one called Anxious People will be released on September 8, 2020.

 Elsa is different, but she comes by her differentness honestly because her grandmother, the chief-influence in Elsa’s life, is so different that some call the old woman crazy. Elsa’s grandmother is not only Elsa’s best friend, she is the little girl’s only friend. Elsa has grown up listening to her grandmother’s long, complicated series of fairy tales about the Kingdom of Miamis and the Land-of-Almost-Awake, and by now, her own code of behavior has been shaped by what she hears in the stories.

 

Fredrik Backman
But then the worst thing in the world that could ever happen to a little girl like Elsa, does happen. Elsa’s grandmother dies. And suddenly, Elsa finds herself on a quest to deliver her grandmother’s letters of apology to just about everyone, it seems, that the old woman ever knew. It all starts with one letter, but that letter leads to Elsa’s discovery of the next to be delivered, and on, and on, and on, it goes until Elsa comes to a surprising discovery: her grandmother had a whole life before Elsa came along, and what a life it was!

 I opted for the audiobook version of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry as soon as I saw that it was read by Joan Walker. Walker is, in overall terms, a very good reader/narrator, but when it comes to giving voice to young children like Elsa, she is truly remarkable. The way that Walker captures the tone, frankness, and sense of humor of a seven-year-old as smart as Elsa will endear the little girl to most readers much more effectively, I’m sure, than most will manage by reading her voice silently to themselves. That is often the real beauty of audiobooks, and it is certainly true in this case.


Bottom Line: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is signature Fredrik Backman,  a novel filled with the kind of quirky, fun characters his readers have come to expect from the author. Backman fans will know exactly what I mean by saying that. Those who still have not read Fredrik Backman really need to do something about that.

8 comments:

  1. I do enjoy this author and can't wait to start Anxious People this week.

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    1. My library doesn't have the new one on a hold list yet, so I'm going to have to ask them about it. They have the other Backman books, so I'm assuming it's a matter of time. In the meantime, I'll look forward to hearing what you think of it.

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  2. I already like Elsa! And I'm making it my new reading goal to read at least one of Backman's books this year. I might just start with this one. :)

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    1. If at all possible, do the audiobook. Walker gives that little girl so much personality, that I'm still thinking about some of the things she said and how sharp she was.

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  3. I've seen some positive reviews, but still have not read it. I'll keep the audio book in mind.

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    1. I had tried reading this one earlier and found myself struggling a bit with some of the early "fairy tale" bits and why the author went on so long about them. So I set it aside and returned it to the library, only to finally decide to see what the audiobook would be like. It kept me hooked through the part I had difficulty with early on, and after that I was off to the races.

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  4. I’m just about to start this one. It’s been in my queue for awhile, but your post made me decide to go ahead and do it. (Though I’ll be reading it.) My first Backman novel, by the way.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Annie. Stick with it...I was a little underwhelmed at the beginning, then it all started to make sense. Backman's books are kind of that way. You read them until the little light in your head finally clicks on. And then you love them.

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