Anxious People by Fredrick Backman was my book group read for August. I wasn't quite expecting what a stunning read it would prove to be, yet it was probably my favourite book group book yet. As the title illustrates it deals with mental health issues in a way that Matt Haig would be proud of. A Book that deserves the plaudits it has received.
Essentially a tale of a botched bank robbery and a subsequent hostage situation in an apartment, yet it's much more than that. Everything is linked to a bridge visible from the apartments and two suicide attempts. One successful and another foiled. All the protagonists are linked to the events. This is rich multi-layered story that just when you think you're making sense of the whole things, peels back and reveals another layer to the mix.
At time it feels like a Monty python sketch, especially the Police interrogations. By the way these are done in play format, which nicely breaks up the prose. These must be the most dysfunctional policemen you'd ever meet. There's a running joke involving Stockholmers, which seems to mean different things to the characters. The humour is never far from the surface here. You slowly pick through the bones of the story uncovering the intricacies of the lives of those taken hostage. Nothing is given easily, yet revealed in response to events.
I can only envy Fredrick Backman for his writing style. It's chatty, almost as though he were there talking to you. As I say humour is never far below the surface, the situations at times being harrowing to read. The neat little overuse of a joke really impressed me. There's the House Tricks estate agents pun which is used relentlessly. A lesser author wouldn't have delivered it so well. How he pulled the rabbit out of the hat, or rather the closet, had me in ears.
Just when you think you've worked out the end, it twists again. Like landing a large fish, it twists and turns before eventually the truth comes out. A sensitive and hopeful ending which was so satisfying. I read each word of the final chapters, not wanting to miss anything. I'm glad I did, because this book gave me hope. I suppose that's the point of it. Like The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, it restores your faith in humanity, a task few books do these days. This is an author I want to read more of.
One of the best books I've read this year. Five Towers all the way.