Allan Karlsson, Julius, Benny, Bosse.
I’d noticed this book on bookshelves many weeks before I actually purchased it. For some reason I’ve always held a prejudice against novels with really random names such as The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared, because I always think that the random titles are just a marketing scheme to get readers to buy the books, but I suppose all book titles do that… Anyway, for that reason I decided not to give this novel a read, however, after a friend of mine suggested this book I thought I’d give it a go- and when I saw the novel was on a ‘buy-one-get-one-half-price’ deal I decided, ‘why not’? And to be perfectly honest, I’m so glad I picked this book up, it was great!
The novel is split into two parts based around the adventures of Allan Karlsson, a ninety-nine year old Swede who decides his mundane life in a retirement home is not the life for him. The first story is that of Allan’s escape from the home (through his window) and his accidental theft of a suitcase from a rude man in a bus station. Allan has no idea that the rude man is in fact a notorious Never Again gang member or that the suitcase has 50 million Swedish Krona in it! Needless to say, when the gangster finds out Allan has stolen his suitcase, he immediately groups all of the gang's resources to hunt down the hundred-year-old man. However, what the gangster doesn’t realise is that though Allan is old, he is also very resourceful and manages to make new friends to evade the gang members and even the police! Nevertheless, when the leader of Never Again gets involved, Allan and his friends have to be careful or they could end up losing their lives!
The second story (and the one which I preferred) is that of Allan’s life. What’s so interesting about Allan’s life is that he seems to have been at nearly every major historical incident in the 20th Century! Whether that be a friend of Franco’s in the Spanish Civil War, working on the A-Bomb, working with Stalin, been thrown into a Soviet Gulag, been in the Korean War and working for the CIA, Allan seems to have been a major influence on all of these events. I really loved this side of the book because one I love history and two because it makes you think about older people and some of the major events in world history which they have lived through. I think this novel makes this a key point in a sort of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ way. Many people judge the older generation as been boring and sometimes a bit of a nuisance, but in reality they have all lived through these extraordinary events and many (like Allan) may have taken part in them, which I think is amazing!
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