There’s a real trend over the last few years for book titles that are so long and ‘quirky’ that I feel like a complete idiot saying them out loud. For examples see The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, and this absolute stinger, The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared. The thing is, although they really wind me up, I find that these titles stick in my head and eventually I find myself picking them up and reading them. Perhaps these booksellers know what they’re doing after all?
The Hundred Year Old Man in question here is Allan Karlsson, who has climbed out of the window of his old people’s home rather than attend his own birthday party. He wanders down to the bus station, where he immediately finds himself on the run from a dangerous criminal, from whom he has stolen a heavy suitcase.
As the story develops, we start to learn more about Allan’s life, with flashbacks taking us from his childhood through to the current day, revealing that this is far from his first taste of adventure.
I did like the structure of this book. I thought that the flashback chapters were nicely interspersed with those describing current events, meaning that I kept learning more and more about Allan which informed my opinion of him gradually. However, the writing style was quite bland and clinical, meaning that I didn’t enjoy reading it for long periods of time. I had picked this up as a treat to myself to kickstart my reading after a few weeks where I felt profoundly uninspired. I was expecting a real page turner, which I didn’t necessarily feel I got.
All the same, I did enjoy reading this overall and I thought that despite a rather far-fetched storyline and a main character with more lives than the average cat, there were plenty of laughs to be had and it wasn’t too challenging. This might be good as a holiday read: there’s plenty to think about if you want to (and my copy handily came with some questions for discussion in the back) but you can also take it at face value as a fun run through twentieth century history.
Now that’s done and dusted, I’ll be starting on my latest haul from Waterstones. Post to follow!