Audio Book Review: Birtt-Marie Was Here

Narrator: Joan Walker
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Published: May 3, 2016
Length: 9 Hours and 18 Minutes
ISBN: 1508216665
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher 


Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. She eats dinner at precisely the right time and starts her day at six in the morning because only lunatics wake up later than that. And she is not passive-aggressive. Not in the least. It's just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention.

But at sixty-three, Britt-Marie has had enough. She finally walks out on her loveless forty-year marriage and finds a job in the only place she can: Borg, a small, derelict town devastated by the financial crisis. For the fastidious Britt-Marie, this new world of noisy children, muddy floors, and a roommate who is a rat (literally), is a hard adjustment.

As for the citizens of Borg, with everything that they know crumbling around them, the only thing that they have left to hold onto is something Britt-Marie absolutely loathes: their love of soccer. When the village’s youth team becomes desperate for a coach, they set their sights on her. She’s the least likely candidate, but their need is obvious and there is no one else to do it.

Thus begins a beautiful and unlikely partnership. In her new role as reluctant mentor to these lost young boys and girls, Britt-Marie soon finds herself becoming increasingly vital to the community. And even more surprisingly, she is the object of romantic desire for a friendly and handsome local policeman named Sven. In this world of oddballs and misfits, can Britt-Marie finally find a place where she belongs?

My Thoughts

Britt-Marie Was Here was my first introduction to the work of Swedish author Fredrik Backman. I knew from the first five minutes of listening Britt-Marie was going to be an interesting character, to say the least. She's very, very particular about how things are done; she lives and dies by baking soda; she unknowingly insults people. But this is only a small facet of her personality.

After she leaves her disastrous marriage, the proud Britt-Marie must learn how to be on her own. She unwillingly takes a job in Borg. The once thriving city is now a ghost town. Repulsed by her surroundings, Britt-Marie really isn't keen on staying. However, when the youth of the city implore that she become their coach, she agrees. She soon finds herself vital to the community as they grow in  their mutual appreciation of each other.

Listening to this book on audio was an absolute pleasure. Narrated by the talented Joan Walker, Britt-Marie and the town of Borg come alive. I laughed, I cried, I fell in love with the story. It's a thought-provoking book that reminds the readers you shouldn't judge someone. The more I got to 'know' Britt-Marie, the more I loved her. Life is messy and this book reminds me of the Rolling Stones lyric, "You can't always get what you want, But if you try sometimes well you might find, you get what you need." And that's what Britt-Marie does.

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