It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not…Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. Already a huge bestseller across Europe, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a fun, feel-good book for all ages.
This was a book that had been recommended to me by a member of the group so I took the opportunity to ‘read it blind’ – I didn’t read the blurb, or do any research, I simply began reading the book on the strength of a recommendation (something which I normally can’t do as I need to pick the books for the group which involves reading the blurb – at the very least). I like to read a book without knowing what it’s about as I find it to be that little bit more interesting, and boy, was this interesting! From start to finish I simply couldn’t put this book down, and even though it was written at quite some length I breezed through it in just a few sittings. The story flips between past and present which enables the reader to fit the pieces of the puzzle together and understand the reasons why Allan decided to start a new adventure on his one-hundreth birthday.
As Allan starts his journey he seems to collect followers who are quite happy to help Allan on his journey and begin a new chapter in their own life. Each character is easy to relate to and very funny to read about, and by the end of the book the fact that our main characters (including an elephant which comes in very handy in a sticky situation) are hunted down on several murder charges, seems to be quite a fitting end for such a book. On several occasions I found myself laughing out loud and no matter how strange or unbelievable the situations became they made perfect sense and all seemed to compliment each other quite gracefully. Blowing things up (which isn’t quite the technical term!) is somewhat of a specialist skill to Allan and it is this skill which will save his life, almost cost his life and pretty much take over his life.
Our full group thoroughly enjoyed the book (apart from one who wasn’t completely convinced, but did find it to be an OK read) and even when we were discussing aspects of the book we found ourselves laughing constantly about the cheeky little phrases and comments throughout the book. The tale which is told is simply ridiculous, but the way in which it is told makes the whole book believable, and jolly funny too. You really begin to travel alongside Allan and his fellow ‘passengers’ and you’ll find yourself in complete admiration for him by the end of his journey which really does change on every page. Even now, as I write this, I’m smirking to myself at the journey this man has taken and the people he’d met along the way. It is so imaginative you have no choice but to believe a lot of what happens and your brain will certainly be wondering: did that really happen? You’ll also be left to think about how you see the older generation and will certainly look at them in a different light as I’m sure they could all tell a tale or two.
So overall we really enjoyed this read and although there were a few technical areas in the book (which may bore you a little and stops the flow of the story in some parts) you can forgive these little rude intrusions as the story is so rich in characters, plot and intrigue that the author can be forgiven for being just a little self-indulgent in some areas. We could all see this becoming a film and I did read it somewhere that the film rights were under discussion so fingers crossed as it really would be a great film. It’s been quite an achievement for this little book to get into the best sellers lists as it was rejected by various major publishers but has now been sold to 30 countries. Thanks to word-of-mouth endorsements, sales in Sweden have exceeded a million. The German translation has sold more than 500,000 copies in four months and total translation sales are approaching two million – not bad for a rejected manuscript!
Both myself and the group can’t recommend this book enough and if you want something that bit different then give it a whirl, but if you are looking for a great laugh and a jolly good romp with the most unlikely characters you can imagine then this should certainly be at the top of your list.