Updated on May 19, 2015
44. ‘The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden’ by Jonas Jonasson
Jonasson’s writing is instantly recognisable: matter of fact, flowing and always slightly tongue in cheek. The first book I read of his was The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared and I absolutely LOVED it.
I found that book tremendously unusual and refreshing, and I think that some of that charm is lost when you read a second book in the same vein. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy The King of Sweden. I just think that it could never live up to the joy of the first book I read by Jonasson.
Nombeko is a girl born in the slums of Soweto in South Africa. Thanks to her determination and her nouse with numbers, she works her way into a job at the sanitation department. But she’s not there for long before a car accident catapults her into an entirely unexpected future, involving love, Sweden and an off-the-record nuclear bomb.
I love the ease with which Jonasson’s heroes go through life. Of course, they’re always faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, but they remain so calm and they seem so focussed on what they want, that it’s easy to believe that everything will come right for them in the end.
Despite the ridiculousness of the scenarios, Jonasson’s writing is always so charming that you’re willing to be swept along by the story. “Just go with it”, would be my advice for reading Jonasson’s books. If you do that, you’re going to have a really good time.
I really loved the character of Two. He’s the very definition of long-suffering, and I don’t know how he manages to put up with his brother’s antics without outright murdering him. Of course, Nombeko is an excellent character too: ballsy, intelligent and not easily shaken. Jonasson has the brilliant skill of dovetailing characters with plot: their motivations always play perfectly into the action of the story and it’s as satisfying as watching a complicated jigsaw puzzle take shape.
If this is the first Jonasson book you read, I’m sure you’ll love it. If it’s the second, you’ll probably still enjoy it but it won’t sweep you away to quite the same extent. It’s definitely a good read if you just want to be taken into a heartwarming world for a few pleasant hours.
“Nombeko said that she was South African, and that she thought it sounded laborious to hate all Americans given how many of them there were.”
If you liked my review, why not read the book and let me know what you think?