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117 of 123 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful romp of a novel
Allan is a hundred years old today, but he doesn't want to stay around for his party in the home in which he is resident, so he climbs out of the window and escapes.

This is the start of Allan's journey (into perhaps a fourth age?), and he becomes involved with a variety of characters - some criminal, and some merely suspect - and is also involved in a...
Published on 1 Sept. 2012 by Frances Stott

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I just don't "get" the hype around this book
It started well and I enjoyed the first few chapters. I began to get bored every time we took a look back into the main character's past life and started to ignore those chapters as they were so tedious, concentrating on those in the present day (2005). After a while they too got tedious and I gave up at roughly the halfway mark. Contrary to media reports it's not in the...
Published 11 months ago by pritchins


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117 of 123 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful romp of a novel, 1 Sept. 2012
By 
Frances Stott (Devizes, Wiltshire) - See all my reviews
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Allan is a hundred years old today, but he doesn't want to stay around for his party in the home in which he is resident, so he climbs out of the window and escapes.

This is the start of Allan's journey (into perhaps a fourth age?), and he becomes involved with a variety of characters - some criminal, and some merely suspect - and is also involved in a several deaths along the way. All Allan really wants is somewhere to live, a bit of company and a plentiful supply of vodka, but he get a great deal more than he has bargained for as his adventures begin. The present-day narrative is interspersed with Allan's back story from his youth until the present, and he has led a very eventful life. His expertise in the field of explosives has led him round the world (sometimes accidentally), and he has come into contact with, among others, President Truman, Mao Tse Tung, and Stalin; all, again, accidentally. He has a charming, almost innocent approach to life, and is a most endearing character. While he has no interest whatsoever in politics, he somehow can't avoid becoming involved, and changes sides as fate dictates, with scant regard to his own safety.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable romp of a novel. What is particularly satisfying is that the humour (and at times, this novel is very funny indeed) translates beautfully from the Swedish, so full marks to the translator, who has done a wonderful job. My only (tiny) reservation would be that some of the descriptive passages are a little over-long, but I have no hesitation in recommending the book. I don't think anyone can fail to enjoy it.
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378 of 404 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This old man has all his marbles..., 27 Aug. 2012
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I was completely blown away by this book. It brought to mind the early Tom Sharpe novels; irresistibly my mind kept floating away to a landscape peopled by eccentric old men, inefficient criminals, Peter Sellers in Pink Panther, all the caricatures of television farce.

I won't detail the plot, you can see that from the other reviews, and by reading the blurb, that it concerns an eccentric pensioner with attitude, with a life story to match, who holds one's attention all through the book. He needs his vodka and can't stand the thought of his Centenary party at the old people's home in which he has ended up where the Matron has been attempting to institutionalise him and take all the joy of choice from his life so, on a sudden whim, he hops out of the window and legs it to the bus station. The other sudden whim, nearly his undoing, was to then hop on the bus with someone else's suitcase, entrusted to him by the owner, who had popped into the loo. So the tale begins.

It is peopled by real political leaders acting in fairly unbelievable ways (at least, I hope they are !) and yet there is a warning message running through this book on several levels, the least of them being a warning not to take anyone too seriously. Especially leaders of countries, matrons of retirement homes, in fact, anyone in authority, whether voted in or not.

Some people won't like the way it goes from past to present, but when someone is one hundred years old, I am not sure there would be enough `present' to build the story on. And it is the past which is so interesting, from a world political point of view, to someone like me who hates anything historical and especially about war. I have assimilated things that I have steadfastly refused to dwell on, and the comical presentation almost makes it more believable than the truth.

Do read this book if you want something to hold your attention, take you back to your father's youth and most of all, if you want something to make you laugh.

Twitter link @GensPlace
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I just don't "get" the hype around this book, 27 Mar. 2014
It started well and I enjoyed the first few chapters. I began to get bored every time we took a look back into the main character's past life and started to ignore those chapters as they were so tedious, concentrating on those in the present day (2005). After a while they too got tedious and I gave up at roughly the halfway mark. Contrary to media reports it's not in the least bit funny / laugh out loud witty. It is bonkers with a farcical story line that doesn't succeed in being a 'funny' farce but purely remains pointless.
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183 of 204 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 out of 5, 28 Aug. 2012
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Whatever you're doing, stop it and read this book.

Without giving too much away, Allan decides to do a bunk from his nursing home on his hundredth birthday, accidentally stealing a gangster's suitcase containing fifty million crowns. He is thereafter sought out as a missing person, fugitive and target by the police and moneyless gang.

What unfolds is nothing short of the most fun, ridiculous and bizarre romp Sweden has ever seen.

Running parallel to the present day (2005) account is a retrospective on our hero's life, from 1905 to present. His adventures take him all over the world, hopping from the frying pan of one major world event and into the fire of the next. A plethora of world leaders feature, along with some other significant historical figures, which Allan happens upon in the most random way.

Because all of Allan's adventures are entirely accidental, and because he rarely recognises the significance of what he is doing, it's just mental enough to be more or less, almost credible. The absolute unlikeliness of one scatter brained, apolitical chap ambling across the globe, causing everything of relevance over the last one hundred years simply adds to the book's unique charm. Allan meets Stalin was a particular favourite episode of mine.

The modern-day (fictitious) characters are also a colourful bunch and compliment Allan in various, fitting ways. We are treated to a short backstory for each of them too, and their pasts contribute to their current function. Writers immediately command more respect when they acknowledge their characters had lives before the plot, and are not just the sum of events since page 1. Although there is rather a clump of histories presented to us early on, they're well worth reading.

Jonasson's writing style is simply fantastic. Plot and characters aside, the book is entertaining purely for the writer's narration. His writing style is warm and funny, and makes it so easy and enjoyable to just glide through the book.

While it seems impossible to conclude the drama in a sensible yet satisfactory way, Jonasson so easily pulls one thread to make the tapestry of events clear. The dénouement is perfect in every way - one you want, one that's not cheating, very clever and incredibly hilarious.

Funny but intelligent, witty but well-researched. Overall, a nigh on faultless chronicle of one man's adventure, pre- and post- his 100th birthday. The biggest downside is simply how much you miss the charming chappy after the curtain comes down on the ride of your, and his, life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An over-long saga which bored me., 31 July 2013
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I thought that the book started off extremely well as the tale of the 100 year old man got underway. However, I didn't realise that it would develop into a Forrest Gumpesque style of increasingly complicated and frankly boring sagas. I liked the characters in the plot which involved the 100 year old man escaping and the series of "mishaps" but the rest was boring.
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95 of 107 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable for a while then faded, 2 Sept. 2012
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Self-help junkie (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
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There is a lot of hype about this book and the reviews on here are totally enthusiastic which kind of convinced me to give it a go. I certainly enjoyed parts of the book - more particularly the earlier sections. There are some amusing and clever twists to the tale - but they become increasingly far-fetched and somewhat repetitive. It reminded me somewhat of William Boyd's (much better in my opinion) 'Any Human Heart' which explored the life of one man viewed against the backdrop of the 20th century but in a much more satisfying and believable way. In Boyd's book I experienced genuine emotion and could identify with the ups and downs of his main character, Logan Mountstuart. By the end of this book, I'd lost any real interest in what was going to happen to the characters, because basically nothing bad ever does. They lead charmed lives - getting away, literally, with murder. So the story works at the level of farcical escapism, but because it's so long it becomes a bit tedious in the end. I guess the one question it leaves you pondering is "Is there a window that I need to climb out of?" - but because the adventures of Allan and his crew are so improbable, the narrative doesn't really help you to answer that question. If it's farce you're after, I'd recommend Michael Frayn's 'Skios' which, to my mind, works much better than this.
So overall, not bad for long journeys, but ultimately empty and unsatisfying.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining if rather long, 8 Aug. 2013
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The one hundred year old man may have climbed out of the window but he most certainly didn't disappear! This is an amusing, rather than laugh out loud funny, novel. It does however suffer from being overly clever and the author is far too determined to cram in every piece of 20th century history that I suspect he ever learnt into this book. The joke wears quite thin after 150 pages and by the 300th page I was rather bored by it. This would have made a very entertaining novella, but at over 300 pages long it cries out for a good editor.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing prepared me for all the Russian history!, 8 Jun. 2013
The first few chapters of the book are great. I was really keen to keep going and find out for myself exactly why the book was an 'international bestseller'. Then it dawned on me that I was reading chapter after chapter of Russian history and politics and war - things that I wasn't expecting to get with this book. Rather, I bought this book as I thought it would be a nice light-hearted read. Some of the political chapters are much too long - some alone take up a large chunk of the book. Out of principle (I hate leaving a book unfinished) I got myself through it, and was very disappointed with the ending!!
The book has lots of wit and humour which made me chuckle in places, and generally is well written. It's just not what I expected in a book that I thought would be quite a light-hearted and interesting read. It may be a good read for people who love reading about history and politics though!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me - I found it irritating!, 16 Jun. 2013
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
I started this book with optimism, when I read the opening couple of pages I thought that I would like it - then it went downhill! I laughed maybe twice throughout the whole book, not my sense of humour at all. I do have one, but not this! I sensed some satire in it but I found myself saying "Oh no!" many times and the story just got more and more ridiculous!
I enjoyed the Harold Fry book, although that one was a bit improbable, but it redeemed itself in other ways - perhaps because the humour was more British.
The only positive to say about The Hundred Year Old Man was that it was easy to read!
I am of the mind that when a book has rave reviews it becomes a bit like The Emperor's New Clothes" no ones want to dispute the generally held opinion in case people think they "don't get it"!
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124 of 141 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious & Clever, 11 Sept. 2012
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This is the most entertaining book I've read for years. I found myself grinning every couple of pages. I loved the absurdity of the main character meeting all these historical world leaders and his wonderful attitude to them. The way the author uses indirect speech makes it hilarious. It's a feel-good book, great fun and by the end all I'm wishing is I have as many adventures when I hit 100 years of age!
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