I picked this up as it had been recommended to me after buying another book on Amazon, had a fantastic title, was intriguing and even better was just 20p on Kindle (which it still currently is, so I recommend you buy it right now this second, what have you got to lose?)
Translated from the original Swedish, the book begins in May 2005 as Allan Karlsson climbs out of the window of the old people’s home where he lives in order to avoid the party being thrown for his 100th birthday.
The centenarian is wearing his indoor slippers and has no particular destination in mind – however, circumstance soon finds him embroiled in a plot that involves theft, gangs, murders and even an elephant called Sonya! (Note the spelling – I am ‘with an i’!)
On top of all this, it appears that the cops are after him, and closing in rapidly.
Thrilling as this may seem, it has nothing on the life that he led before he landed in the old people’s home.
I don’t really know what I was expecting from this book – but it definitely wasn’t what I got!
Allan Karlsson’s life leading up to his dramatic ‘escape’ was dramatic in itself, even though the man himself seems the coolest, calmest person I’ve ever come across in fiction. He seems to plod along, doing whatever he fancies, and taking it in his stride that he seems to regularly come into contact with world leaders and somehow be responsible for various events in recent history.
The story of his life is so obviously ridiculous, and yet Allan himself is so undynamic and reasonable that it feels almost plausible! How confusing is that.
Murders aside (which are quite frankly cartoonish and almost laughable themselves), this story is gentle and harmless and amused me page by page.
Overall, I did in fact take away one valuable thought – don’t judge old people on how you see them, the longer they’ve lived, the greater the opportunity for adventure they have had. Of course, the majority of them will have had no influence over Chairman Mao or Stalin!
I can honestly say that this is by far the best (*) book I have read this year – and I am now looking forward to the film.