“A Man Called Ove” and “Marshall: A Statesman Shaped in the Crucible of War”

Book Reviews by Michelle Goetzl


Ove is a 59-year-old curmudgeon. He has staunch principles, strict routines and a short fuse. He lives a very rigid, structured life and expects the rest of the world to run the same way.
This is how Fredrik Backman’s sleeper hit, “A Man Called Ove,” begins. As this surprisingly endearing book unfolds, you come to realize that Ove’s heart isn’t two sizes too small but rather quite amazingly large.
It is easy to judge a book by its cover. Those around Ove have decided that he is a heartless, old grump. His wife, Sonja, had been the soul of the couple, but her death six months earlier left Ove utterly alone.
Backman slowly allows readers to get to know Ove by taking them back in time to watch him develop into the man he is now. By alternating between the past and the present, all of Ove’s idiosyncrasies begin to make sense, and the man inside comes to life. Ove is completely heartbroken over his wife’s death and at the same time is being confronted with the idea of no longer being relevant.
The final straw for Ove seems to come when he retires from work. As his new neighbors shake up his life, they won’t allow him a moment of peace. One by one, uninvited guests start coming into his life and take up residence in his once orderly existence. Slowly the angry man next door becomes the kind-hearted soul that only Sonja had been able to see before.
“A Man Called Ove” is a charming novel that gives us an escape from the noise of the world around us. While Ove’s prickly behavior and rigidity start out as annoying and exhausting, he slowly wins the reader over and by the end, he just makes you smile.

One of Pinehurst’s most celebrated residents, Gen.George C. Marshall, will be honored in The Given Tufts Fall Colloquium on Sept. 21 in the Cardinal Ballroom of the Carolina Hotel.
The program features presentations by two speakers, each of whom will focus on several aspects of Marshall’s life. Rachel Thompson, a Marshall scholar and author of “Marshall: A Statesman Shaped in the Crucible of War,” is one of the distinguished speakers.
Thompson’s biography follows Marshall from childhood adventures through two world wars and the rebuilding of Europe. Thompson weaves aspects of Marshall’s personal and private life into the patriot’s record of enormous contributions to America and the world.
“One purpose for writing this new biography is to help the reader appreciate the energy, commitment and dogged determination that it took for him to accomplish all that he did during 50 years of service to this country,” Thompson says.
As Major General Clair F. Gill, U.S. Army, Retired said in her review of the 2014 book, “Thompson’s biography of Marshall should be on every young military officer’s reading list. His is a life that the finest should aspire to follow. Even in the six decades since his amazing contributions, Marshall remains relevant.”

For more event information, visit www.giventufts.org


Goetzl writes an online blog—“Books My Kids Read.” She loves books and sharing that love of reading with children. She can be reached at booksmykidsread@gmail.com