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The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden [Hardcover]

Jonas Jonasson , Rachel Willson-Broyles
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (749 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 April 2014

As delightfully wry and witty as his bestselling debut, ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared’, this is a tale of how one woman’s attempt to change her future ended up changing everything.

Nombeko Mayeki is on the run from the world’s most ruthless secret service – with three Chinese sisters, twins who are officially one person and an elderly potato farmer. Oh, and the fate of the King of Sweden – and the world – rests on her shoulders.

Born in a Soweto shack in 1961, Nombeko was destined for a short, hard life. When she was run over by a drunken engineer her luck changed. Alive, but blamed for the accident, she was made to work for the engineer – who happened to be in charge of a project vital to South Africa’s security. Nombeko was good at cleaning, but brilliant at understanding numbers. The drunk engineer wasn’t – and made a big mistake. And now only Nombeko knows about it …

As uproariously funny as Jonas Jonasson’s bestselling debut, this is an entrancing tale of luck, love and international relations.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 387 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco Press (29 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006232912X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062329127
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.7 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (749 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 656,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘One of the word of mouth bestsellers of last year was Jonasson’s uproariously funny “The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climed Out Of A Window And Disappeared”. Now he’s back in similar vein … A comic delight of love, luck and mathematics’ ***** Caroline Jowett, Daily Express

‘As unlikely and funny as Jonas Jonasson's 2012 debut bestseller, “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared” … There is no shortage of fast-paced action … Take nothing seriously is the refreshing subtext. At the heart of this very likable book is the notion that even someone from the humblest of origins can have a gigantic impact on life.’ Sophia Martelli, Observer

‘It’s excellent … a drily satirical tour of the world. This tour takes in Swedish liberals, Colonel Gaddafi and of course, apartheid and the South African Prime Minister B J Vorster’ Catherine Nixey, The Times

‘Having had a massive international hit … Jonas Jonasson has wisely spun his second epic yarn from the same tangly stuff … As pacy and pain-free as a cartoon, Jonasson's narrative … zips along, the backdrop of familiar international politics lending a curious realism to what is pure, ingenious fantasy … It's "feel-good" set to stun level’ Jane Housham, Guardian

‘A funny and completely implausible farce about a woman, a bomb and a man’s frustrated ambition to overthrow the king of Sweden… The rest of the world will chuckle all the way through it.’ Kirkus Reviews

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jonas Jonasson was a journalist for the Expressen newspaper for many years. He became a media consultant and later on set up a company producing sports and events for Swedish television. He sold his company and moved abroad to work on his first novel. Jonasson now lives on the Swedish island Gotland in the Baltic Sea.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Like many reviewers, I was looking forward to this book after Jonasson's amazing debut with "The hundred year old man..." and, by comparison, I found it slightly disappointing - but only slightly. The style is unmistakably Jonasson - the same easy reading style, the same implausible co-incidences and hilarious adventures - so it's definitely a case of "more of the same". That seems to have upset some reviewers, but not this one. The plot and characters are very different and the story zigs and zags all over the place.

If you have read and enjoyed "The hundred year old man..." ignore the reviews of this book, read it yourself and form your own opinions. If you haven't read "The hundred year old man..." try reading this one first and then read and review "The hundred year old man..." I, for one, would be very interested to see if the reason so many reviewers are disappointed by this book is simply that it's too similar in style to its predecessor.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Formula doesn't work the second time 23 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novel charts the progress of Nombeko, a highly intelligent and inventive South Afican girl who moves from emptying latrines, to being run over by a car and compelled to work for the driver, through to her escape and her eventual 'saving' of the King of Sweden. Along the way, she teams up with a pair of identical Swedish twins, and together they find themselves in possession of an atomic bomb, with no means of disposing of it.

Like The Hundred-Year-Old Man, Nombeko travels widely, and like him, she meets all kinds of unlikely characters on the way. But I found this novel too smiliar to the author's first (which, incidentally, I loved), and it went on far too long. At the beginning, I found it very funny and lively, but afer a while, all that began to wear off, and I became bored with it. In the end, I struggled to finish it.

The author seems to have found a formula, and it obviously works for many readers. In fact, had it been cut by a third, I might have enjoyed it. But as I read it, it moved from five, to four stars, and (for me) ended up with just three.
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78 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bonkers 27 April 2014
It was going to be a tall order to pull off another highly original and funny novel after Jonasson’s debut, ‘The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared’, which I believe has or will soon be a film. We eagerly awaited to see what his next novel would be like and hoped that it would still be good, and although I personally have a slight preference for his debut, this is still another great tale.

Those who have read his first book will remember that in places there were echoes of ‘Forrest Gump’; as you start to read this novel you see echoes of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ at the beginning, although set in South Africa. We meet Nombeko Mayeki who is born in the Soweto slums and to put it politely is what in this country used to be called a night soil person. But Nombeko soon learns to count and become literate, despite things being against her and the other blacks in an apartheid country. From these humble beginnings by fourteen years of age she is running the refuse centre, but her life takes a dramatic turn, and she ends up working at a secret facility for building an atomic bomb (Jonas Jonasson loves his atomic bombs). Although a cleaning lady Nombeko it has to be admitted becomes more or less the brains behind the research facility.

Of course things don’t go to plan, as ultimately Nombeko finds that her boss has created seven atomic bombs instead of six, and has to get rid of the extra as political events change. Thus Nombeko finds herself seeking asylum in Sweden, being lumbered with an atomic bomb and three Chinese sisters who only really know how to make fake antique pottery. With Mossad also on her trail could things get any worse?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit too much 23 Jun 2014
By Inge
I really loved the 'Hundred Year old man etc' because it was funny, witty, new and clever. 'The girl who saved the king of Sweden' read like an exact copy and made me feel I was going through the same book again which for me was a bit too much.

The main character Nombeko could have been very likeable if the author would have put some depth in her personality. The same goes for all the characters really. Without being able to connect on an emotional level the book is just a story, a very long one for that matter, there just doesn't seem to be an end to stupidity.

To me the book comes across as if the author has tried very hard to make the most use of his rise to stardom with the first book and now trying to cash.

However, I don't want to write off the entire book. For me it had it's funny moments, so am giving it 2 stars. Wouldn't recommend it. If you want to read a book written by Jonas Jonasson then please read the 'Hundred year old man...'. If you've read that one already then there's plenty of better reads to be found.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
In a novel so wild and imaginative that it screams out to be made into a film, Swedish author Jonas Jonasson expands this "farce" beyond the customary domestic focus and uses the whole world as his stage. Drawing his characters from South Africa, Israel, China, and Sweden, with a couple of Americans also earning passing swipes, he focuses on cultural and racial issues; world affairs, including the modern political history of several countries; and the accidents of history which have the power to change the world. The craziness starts with the novel's over-the-top opening line, quoted here as this review's title. For the next four hundred pages, the bold absurdity continues, spreading outward until it eventually absorbs the kings, presidents, and prime ministers of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Main character Nombeko Mayeki, a thirteen-year-old orphan, has been a latrine worker in Soweto, South Africa's largest shantytown, for half her life, educating herself on the job by counting the barrels she totes, then gradually making the counting exercises harder until she can multiply huge sums in her head. She is as verbal as she is mathematical - and so astute as to motivations of those around her that she progresses quickly, both on the job and in her education, proving to be far more clever than the people who teach her. Her eventual escape for Pretoria ends quickly when she is injured. A judge sentences her to work for the man who injured her - at Pelindaba, a nuclear research facility north of Johannesburg which is working to build an atomic bomb.

Alternating with the story of Nombeko is the story of Ingmar Qvist, a Swede whose life's mission is to shake the hand of Swedish King Gustav V.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This book is a great read, could not put book down until it was finished,
Published 1 hour ago by joy prescott
5.0 out of 5 stars Very amusing, hilarious, totally unrealistic which adds to ...
Very amusing, hilarious, totally unrealistic which adds to the comedy, escapist while making use of political reality, has a definite feel-good factor/effect- in short, a... Read more
Published 2 hours ago by EM. Jacobsen Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read
Published 2 hours ago by Amy McGovern
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A really wacky read, one of those books you read slowly to make it last !!!
Published 23 hours ago by Mrs. Patricia Barrington
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great fun to read but perhaps a trifle long.
Published 1 day ago by Mrs I Higgins
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
I really enjoyed this book, perhaps moreso that the hundred year old man (which was excellent too).. Is that 20 words yet ? Good
Published 1 day ago by ATK
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The best yet. So enjoyed it. Even better than the 100 yr old man.
Published 1 day ago by J
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Having read Jonas's previous book I was eager to purchase this one and get stuck in. I wasn't disappointed. Funny, entertaining, excellently witty and clever. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Jessica
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't enjoy this as much as the "100 year old man ...
Didn't enjoy this as much as the "100 year old man etc". The story didn't really seem to get going for ages and was little predictable. Read more
Published 2 days ago by S Greenwell
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely brilliant book!
An absolutely brilliant book! I laughed, I cried and didn't want it to end. Jonas Jonasson created an ensemble cast of characters that made the pages come alive. Read more
Published 2 days ago by D. Joy
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