Ove had a friend in the neighborhood in which he lived for 40 years, his name is Rune, who is married to Anita. Anita and Sonja, Ove’s wife, get along quite well. Rune and Ove do also… at first.
For some reason which neither can articulate now since it is so far in the distant past, the pair had a falling out and now they are bitter enemies, attempting to undermine each other in the housing association. Rune orders a robot lawn mower that mows the common area outside of Ove’s house endlessly. Ove rewires the robot mower and it mysteriously drives itself into Rune’s pool. The tales of subversion are endless. It doesn’t help that Ove will only drive a Saab and Rune will only drive a Volvo. Each thinks the other is an imbecile.
Without giving away spoilers, Mr. Beckman uses the relationship as the climax of the book when Ove discovers quite unexpectedly [and the reader with him], the value of community and the necessity of friends and human interaction, even when one is inclined to be a curmudgeon and hermit.
This, ultimately, is the value of Mr. Beckman’s book and no doubt the reason it became a bestseller internationally. We all need community around us to support us when we need help, and to be helped by us when we are able to offer it. Ove needs to both be served and to serve, which the reader realizes is the human condition. We need to serve in community and not be too pride-filled to be helped by our community when we need it. Combine that aspect with a genuine, sweet, endearing love story and one can see the draw of the book across cultures.
Mr. Beckman manages to pull off a sad, sweet, bitter, happy ending to his excellent book, but of course I will not reveal that to you, dear reader. That is for you to discover on your own.