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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of the "charming debut" (People) A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, a heartwarming and hilarious story of a reluctant outsider who transforms a tiny village and a woman who finds love and second chances in the unlikeliest of places.

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 63, Britt-Marie has had enough. She finally walks out on her loveless 40-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 on to 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?

Zany and full of heart, Britt-Marie Was Here is a novel about love and second chances and about the unexpected friendships we make that teach us who we really are and the things we are capable of doing.

©2016 Fredrik Backman (P)2016 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator Joan] Walker's engaged, seamless narration combined with the heartwarming story makes for delightful listening." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sara
  • Out In The Wild Blue Yonder
  • 05-12-16

A Gem

What a wonderfully odd, engaging and eccentrically off-beat novel. This was the first of Backman's books that I have read. I didn't understand until I finished listening and read some reviews that the character of Britt-Marie actually came from another earlier book written by the author. This wasn't a huge problem because I think this book works well as a stand-alone novel too. However, this is something to consider if you are thinking about trying this title. You might want to read them in order and start with My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry first.

The narration was just excellent. I loved Joan Walker's style and ability to voice all the different characters. It was a pleasure to listen to her skilled delivery. She really brought the story to life.

Be aware, this isn't a neat and tidy book with all the loose threads wrapped up at the end. Instead it is an often unsettling, thought provoking story about life, love, loss and choices. I really enjoyed it.

74 of 83 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jodie
  • Middletown, NY, United States
  • 07-22-16

Ha! (Listen to the book and you will understand!)

Terrific book! It was my second Backman book and I can't wait to get to the third one! Britt-Marie is a card...you can't help but fall in love with her. Ha! Backman has a wonderful writing style - it is very different from others. He has a way of teaching us that behind those rigid, stern people we encounter, are tragic histories which helped shaped them. The book was delightful!

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

TOUCHING, FUNNY, DEEP

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This book is a rare pleasure. At first, I found the main character to be distractingly OCD and hard to hear about. But that's the beauty of the story: learning to see her for who she really is, as she does the same.

What did you like best about this story?

The story's great, but the narrator is amazing. There's no way to describe her talent. She "makes" the presentation.

Which scene was your favorite?

When Britt-Marie realizes that she is the kind of person who "jumps."

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not really. I found myself wanting to savor the experience.

25 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 05-07-16

Simply Gorgeous

Britt-Marie was such an unlikable character throughout "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry" that I was shocked when her character arc turned her into such a compelling, wonderful person. Someone whose past and present had such pain in them. I was thrilled to find that "Britt-Marie was Here" carried that wonder forward and made her truly memorable.
This is a fantastic book. Britt-Marie, a woman whose furiously scrubbed windows are her view into the world, a woman who can't sleep because that's what happens when you live your life for others, follows her from the unemployment office to a tiny town that's been hit hard by the financial crisis, from an unfortunate marriage to budding relationships with others, from a woman whose lists are down in pencil to a woman who may actually use pen, yes pen, in her life. Because maybe, just maybe she has courage and hope to spare.
The story is filled with delightfully profane characters, characters who have the courage to get up and get along, who struggle mightily, who are written with the greatest love imaginable. Backman pours love into each and every one of them, and he pours love into each and every word he writes. Where else will you read about someone whose hair style is so bad it looks like it "was combed with a terrified animal"? Where else will you read about a Snickers-loving rat? (And the reason Britt-Marie makes a pact with this little creature is so touching I damned near cried.)
I did cry, flat-out, when she makes her funniest joke, this woman who doesn't believe she has a sense of humor because she's been told she hasn't one, at the end. Hell, I cried for the last quarter of the book.
This story is written with love, and it succeeds with well-drawn, fully fleshed-out characters where "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry" faltered a bit. I honestly think I just might get the print version to go over some of the writing. But the audio has such fresh narration, perfect vocal distinctions that I think it'll be a toss-up as to which version is my favorite.
Highly, highly recommended! This book brought out feelings like I'd never felt before (and I feel A LOT)!

58 of 72 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyable

What a funny, touching, and heartwarming story - the characters were extremely well developed, immensely real, and the town of Borg (sp?) one that I'd love to visit. A+!

19 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Slow start; good finish

Would you consider the audio edition of Britt-Marie Was Here to be better than the print version?

I think the narration was spot on. I don't think I missed anything by hearing the audio version vs. reading the print version.

Would you recommend Britt-Marie Was Here to your friends? Why or why not?

I'm am SO torn...but I can say that I would recommend A Man called Ove over this one. This book was VERY slow in the beginning and, in fact, I was very tempted to not finish it. About 2/3's of the way, the story picked up and I became invested in the characters... so much so, that I found myself yelling at Britt-Marie while I was walking my dog! Strange how the book could go from making me fall asleep, to a point where I couldn't put down my earbuds...

What about Joan Walker’s performance did you like?

I loved to hear her version of the different characters (especially of Somebody). I think she encapsulated the characters perfectly.

If you could take any character from Britt-Marie Was Here out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Definitely Sammy... I was crying at the end. He was a complex boy that needed a good dinner and a good friend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • Waltham, MA, United States
  • 10-09-16

This female version of "Ove" falls short

I had enjoyed reading Backman's "A Man Called Ove," and hoped for a similar experience with this novel. Britt-Marie is the curmudgeonly protagonist here, and I liked her character a lot. The problem is that the secondary characters don't come alive here as they did with Ove, and the story is not that engaging outside of the idiosyncracies of Britt-Marie. Ove had started slowly and picked up steam, ending very strongly, so I did not quit on this as early as I might have. But when I was more than halfway done Britt-Marie Was Here, and still not engaged, I quit. I could totally see where this was going (to a feel-good ending). Maybe the second half gets a lot better, but I was just not invested enough to find out.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 05-05-16

Sometimes a little messiness is a good thing

Fredrik Backman has the rare gift of understanding and compassion for human beings. In this spin-off from “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry”, he takes one of the least sympathetic characters, Britt-Marie, and not only makes us understand her, but sympathize and ultimately root for her to choose her own destiny on her own terms.

Britt-Marie’s entire life has been ruled by fear of what others may think of her. Fighting to keep control of her rapidly unraveling life, she cleans. Everything. Constantly. Her perfectly ordered cutlery drawer is a measure of her civility. And her sparkling clean windows allow her see the world clearly, when what she really wants more than anything is to be seen – to matter.

Fortunately, down deep below the confines of her rules Britt-Marie is a kind person with very good manners, which gives her just enough consideration for the ways of her new community neighbors to start making a place for herself. When she is roped into becoming the youth soccer coach, she also becomes a life coach, showing her team, as she learns for herself, that you just don’t give up when you are behind in the game.

As with his first two novels, Backman tells this wonderful story with huge doses of humor through quirky but believable characters. There are also tears because life doesn’t always respect the lists we make for ourselves, which is why one never ever writes them in ink.

28 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • tracy
  • EUGENE, OR, United States
  • 05-11-16

Excellent Book!

What did you like best about this story?

Britt-Marie is a very comical person. She doesn't mean to be and is easily offended if you laugh at her. Fredrik Backman does a great job writing about Britt-Marie. You can easily picture this women, set in her ways.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I wanted to listen to this one in one sitting for sure. I will probably listen to it again. I enjoyed this book.

Any additional comments?

If you have loved any of Fredrik's other books you will love this book.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Backman is an extraordinary writer

This is the first book that I’ve listened too but have read all of his work. I read this book and then listened to it . I loved it both times!! His stories are wonderful, poignant, sometimes sad and always uplifting. This is a wonderful story as are all of his books. Britt Marie was introduced in another book which is equally as brilliant “ My grandmother told me to tell you she is sorry”. I hesitated on this one because I did not fully understand or care for Britt Marie. However all things are revealed about her childhood in this book and you understand the power of life and the beauty of change just by stepping into life . I recommend all his books he makes me laugh and cry and always leaves me with a smile .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful