Britt-Marie Was Here: A Novel
by Fredrik Backman
Hardcover- $15.85

The bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry returns with an irresistible novel about ...

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  "britt-marie was here" by bhale (see profile) 03/16/16

  "A Heartwarming story for those who loved "A Man Called Ove". Britt-Marie will capture your heart." by thewanderingjew (see profile) 04/03/16

Who is Britt-Marie? She is the antithesis of the liberated woman. She is an old-fashioned, naïve, very tidy woman with demanding scruples and an excessive love of lists that she feels compelled to follow to the letter. For her entire life she has been dependent on her husband, Kent, and before that, on her family, a family she could not please or unite after they experienced the tragic death of her sister, the favorite child. She is a woman with little sense of humor, with little knowledge of the outside world, and with few social skills. She is an expert in taking care of a household, husband, and children, not necessarily her own, and also in entertaining her husband’s business clients. Otherwise, she is ill-prepared for the real world outside her home. Who is Britt-Marie? She is a woman betrayed. Her husband, Kent, had a heart attack which led to her discovery of his mistress. She is distraught, humiliated and shocked. For the first time in her life, she makes an independent move which leads to her finally finding her true self.
When we meet her, she is in an unemployment office harassing the employee who cannot seem to provide her with an immediate position. Britt-Marie is called a nag-bag by many and she lives up to the reputation. After all, on the list, one of many she has made, she has written “find employment”, and she ticks off the items on it as they get completed. So, as far as she is concerned, the list must be completed. Although she has never worked outside the home, and is told she has no work experience, she insists that working at home was a job, a concept that should make many a woman smile. Exasperated, the unemployment office employee offers her a three week position in a one-horse town that is dying due to the financial crisis that has hit the world, only it has hit harder in the town of Borg. She is appointed as the caretaker of their recreation center. She immediately returns to the hostel she is staying at, packs her things and heads straight to Borg to begin her new life where she immediately sets about cleaning up the place, for she is nothing if not organized, nothing if not a creature of habit, but first, out of habit, she demands certain cleaning products. She wants Faxin, and only Faxin will do. It is the product she has always used to clean her windows. She wants baking soda which she always uses, as well, to clean everything, clothes, furniture, mattresses, and refrigerators!
Kent has not built up her self-esteem, so she is unaware of any talents she might have other than maintaining a home for him and his children. Now, she uses these skills in the town, cleaning, straightening and sprucing things up. She washes soccer uniforms, windows, floors, and hangs pictures. She adopts the recreation center’s resident rat, for he has a right to live also. She feeds and also engages in one-sided conversations with the rat, because, of course, the rat cannot respond. The conversations with the rat are indicative of Britt-Marie’s loneliness and aloneness. She realizes she has had few friends other than those business people she met through Kent.
Britt Marie is an expert at spouting left-handed compliments which she believes are not insulting, just truthful. She has been desensitized to the feelings of others because she has had little interaction with others outside her home. Although she often says things in very impolitic ways, sometimes those she addresses are actually confused by her statements and then so amused by her innocence that they are not insulted. For instance, she might tell someone he was brave to wear such an unpleasant looking tie, or she might inquire why a child is not in school in a most cryptic, indirect way, especially when one of the children, a “fixer” of sorts, offers to get her the items she needs, although they are not sold in the store. They seem to have “fallen off a truck” somewhere. The child, Omar, can get most anything, and he provides her with the supplies. She meets his sister Vega, a foul-mouthed, dirty-looking girl who works in the local store that doubles as post office, pizzeria, auto mechanic, etc. Sami is their 20 year old, older brother. He hangs out with someone called Psycho, who indeed, is psycho!
These children begin a symbiotic association with her, and they are soon joined by other children and townsfolk like Bank who is not blind, but sight impaired, Sean, the Sheriff, and Somebody, a woman who rolls around her restaurant in her wheelchair barking orders. They form relationships that enhance not only their lives, but Britt-Marie’s and the rest of the townspeople’s as well. When the children approach Britt-Marie to be their soccer coach because she is there only choice since they need a coach to compete for the cup, she agrees, although she knows nothing about soccer. She learns more about life in that capacity than she had during the years she was married. She shares the town’s happy moments and suffers with them when tragedy strikes. She comes of age in Borg, at the “young” age of 63.
As Britt-Marie begins to be appreciated by the people she meets. She thinks back to her childhood dreams and dwells on some of her memories, like the plans she and her sister made to travel to Paris; she also remembers not being able to please her parents and realizes that Kent has never really praised her. When she begins to have a positive influence on the town as she demands and then expects proper behavior, obedience to rules and cleanliness, she finds she is respected, liked and then even praised. She begins to believe in herself just a little bit more, but she always returns to her thoughts of the status quo and wonders if it wouldn’t be better if she returned to the comfort of the life she once knew.
The reader will laugh and cry with her. The reader will wonder, will she go to Paris or will she forgive her husband and go home to him. Will she stay in Borg? Will the Sheriff who is smitten with her and the gathering groups of children remain a part of her life? Now that she has learned how to make her own decisions, her own independent choices, what will she choose? Soccer brought life back into Britt-Marie’s world. Which superstitious beliefs about the professional teams will guide her?
Britt-Marie wanted a job so that someone would notice if she died; she wanted someone to notice if she disappeared or if she didn’t show up. At the end, is that her overriding ambition any longer or has she found a new one? I think Britt-Marie chose to think about going on living rather than planning for the possibility of her death. I think she realized that she could make friends and would be missed, not only by them, but perhaps, also by Kent. Borg gave her a new lease on life and brought me hours of reading joy.
If you fell in love with Ove in Backman’s “A Man Called Ove”, because of his basic humanity in spite of his hard edges, you will adore Britt-Marie in spite of her rigidity. Her inner softness and tenderness will shine through because Backman’s skill in describing life at its core, is astounding. His dry wit will mitigate the more distressing events in the book so that although it is not a laugh out loud story, it will surely often offer a chuckle and titter for the reader.

  "Britt-Marie Was Here" by Silversolara (see profile) 04/26/16

Keeping up appearances but not being appreciated was Britt-Marie's life.?

Britt-Marie always ?worried ?what other?s? would think if something happened to her when they traveled and her hotel room was not in pristine order.

Britt-Marie was 63 and needed a job. If anyone would drive you crazy about a job or just about anything, it would be Britt-Marie. The only job the employment agency had for Britt-Marie was in a town called Borg, and the job was cleaning the recreation center.

Britt-Marie was appalled when Borg didn't have any Faxin for her cleaning routine. How could they not have Faxin? How can you get anything clean without it?

Britt-Marie has a germ and dirt aversion which is comically portrayed and makes you laugh out loud at her statements.

?Borg grows to love Britt-Marie, and Britt-Marie loves Borg and its residents.

BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE is a heartwarming, funny, enjoyable read.

I was delighted with this book from the first three-word sentence of the book, and the delight continued until the last page. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

  "" by Michellelikestoread (see profile) 08/02/16

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  "Britt Marie was HEre" by Carolynr (see profile) 08/22/17

interestingly enough I did not remember this character from MyGrandmother told me to tell you she's sorry. but it didn't matter....i think the book stands on its own. i did have a hard time in the beginning and almost put it down. Very glad I did not...the book picks up and is an excellent story!! Great read.
Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. A disorganized cutlery drawer ranks high on her list of unforgivable sins. She is not one to judge others—no matter how ill-mannered, unkempt, or morally suspect they might be. It’s just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention. But hidden inside the socially awkward, fussy busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams, and a warmer heart that anyone around her realizes.

When Britt-Marie walks out on her cheating husband and has to fend for herself in the miserable backwater town of Borg—of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it—she finds work as the caretaker of a soon-to-be demolished recreation center. The fastidious Britt-Marie soon finds herself being drawn into the daily doings of her fellow citizens, an odd assortment of miscreants, drunkards, layabouts. Most alarming of all, she’s given the impossible task of leading the supremely untalented children’s soccer team to victory.

SPOILER: I am a little surprised she goes back with Kent. I almost want her to stay in Borg. But its a good ending. Maybe she doesn't stay with him either!

  "" by Christie Lambert (see profile) 09/17/17

  "Fun, Easy read " by LSakay (see profile) 09/24/17

What can I say? I just love Backman. He has become one of my favorite authors. I was introduced to the "unlikable" character of Britt-Marie in Backman's My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry. Backman has taken her debut role and fleshed her out to an endearing, caring, humorous character in this book. He also, as he's done in his other books, highlights lessons of love and life by carrying us through the shallow and imperfect aspects of people and emphasizing what truly does matter. I listened to this read... laughing, gasping, and smiling throughout.

  "Not as good as Ove but still worth some time" by castellj (see profile) 09/25/17

A Man Called Ove was one of my favorite reads this year. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry was just an okay read from a couple of years ago. This one, lands right in the middle. What I think went wrong was that too much time was spent on inner dialogue, which I rarely enjoy. It also was a bit repetitive - Got it! She's addicted to sodium bicarbonate. And yes she folds her hands a lot. Oh, and yes, understand she has no crumbs on her skirt. (why is she always wearing skirts???) However, the characters were rich in character and it was nice to watch her common sense melt away allowing her to self realize. It helps I always have a soft spot for Liverpool, even though I was ruffled they didn't mention The Saints! I'd recommend it for an innocent, light read.

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 09/26/23

This was a book that if I was reading it nit in a book club I would have stopped after a couple chapters. I found the main character annoying and wasn’t very interested. But as you should in book club, I just kept reading and about 1/2 way through I was understanding Britt and it all came together. I finished the book and can say I really enjoyed it.

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