My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises by Fredrik Backman was published in 2015 and after reading and loving A Man Called Ove recently I just had to get this one from the library too. I gave Backman’s first book five stars on Goodreads – quite rare for me. I’ll be giving this one four I think because it was just a wee bit too crazy and fantastical, especially at the beginning – or maybe I just got used to it.
I did think that it was very different from A Man Called Ove but by the time I reached the end I realised that Backman was again writing a book which brought a lot of very disparate human beings together in one small neighbourhood.
Elsa is a seven year old whose parents are divorced but they both have different partners now and her mother is expecting Halfie, her half sibling. It’s a time of stress for Elsa as she’s sure that she is going to take second place to Halfie and to make matters worse she is a bit of an outcast at school, she just doesn’t fit in and nobody likes her. She’s bullied, but she isn’t exactly a shrinking violet herself. In fact she has learned quite a lot from her weird and frankly outrageously rude Granny. But mind you, if you can’t be outrageous when you’re 77 – when can you be?
The one bright spot in Elsa’s life is her eccentric granny. Granny is a storyteller and she has kept Elsa entertained for years with her tales, in fact they have their own secret language together and when life gets too much for Elsa she takes herself off to the lands of Granny’s tales.
Granny and Elsa have a common adversary, Elsa’s Mum. Mum has a high-powered job at the local hospital and she spends very little time with Elsa, something which Granny doesn’t like. But as Mum says – Granny was never there for her either when she was growing up as Granny was a doctor who had chosen to go to war zones to help other people’s children.
They live in the same apartment block which houses a cast of eccentric characters, some of whom seem really awful in the beginning, but Granny has worked her magic and despite this being at times a very sad story, it has a happy ending, which is good because I was in need of a happy ending!
One other thing, this book was translated from Swedish by Henning Koch and he made a great job of it.