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The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden Paperback – 24 Apr 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 1,526 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (24 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007557906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007557905
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,526 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘A comic delight of love, luck and mathematics’ 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”’ Observer

‘Excellent. A drily satirical tour of the world [taking in] Swedish liberals, Colonel Gaddafi and of course, apartheid and the South African Prime Minister B J Vorster’ The Times

‘’Feel-good’ set to stun level’ 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

From the Back Cover

A wildly picaresque new novel from Jonas Jonasson, the author of the internationally bestselling The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

In a tiny shack in the largest township in South Africa, Nombeko Mayeki is born. Put to work at five years old and orphaned at ten, she quickly learns that the world expects nothing more from her than to die young, be it from drugs, alcohol, or just plain despair. But Nombeko has grander plans. She learns to read and write, and at just fifteen, using her cunning and fearlessness, she makes it out of Soweto with millions of smuggled diamonds in her possession. Then things take a turn for the worse....

Nombeko ends up the prisoner of an incompetent engineer in a research facility working on South Africa's secret nuclear arsenal. Yet the unstoppable Nombeko pulls off a daring escape to Sweden, where she meets twins named Holger One and Holger Two, who are carrying out a mission to bring down the Swedish monarchy...by any means necessary.

Nombeko's life ends up hopelessly intertwined with the lives of the twins, and when the twins arrange to kidnap the Swedish king and prime minister, it is up to our unlikely heroine to save the day and possibly the world. In this wild romp, Jonasson tackles issues ranging from the pervasiveness of racism to the dangers of absolute power while telling a charming and hilarious story along the way. In the satirical voice that has earned him legions of fans the world over, Jonasson gives us another rollicking tale of how even the smallest of decisions can have sweeping even global consequences." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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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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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition
Jonas Jonasson burst onto the publishing scene with The Hundred-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, originally published in Swedish in 2009 and in English three years later.

A significant part of the international success of this global success lay in Jonasson's ability to maintain an extended seemingly-simplistic whimsical story, a zany plot, heart-warming characters and an appeal to readers of all ages. This second book includes all these elements but, of course, lacks that of surprise. The author has a much more difficult task in getting readers who know what to expect to laugh or smile a second time.

However, firstly a major complaint. This is a book of 414 action-packed pages that includes both factual and historical events and characters, as well as those invented by the author. However, only in minute print on the copyright page do we find reference to the English translator, Rachel Wilson-Broyles. No stars to the publishers, 4th Estate, for this discourtesy, especially since the translation has been so expertly handled and has appeared so rapidly after the book's Swedish publication in 2013.

There is little point trying to summarise the author's fertile, almost Surrealist plot except to say that its central character - the Girl of the title - is Nombeko Mayeki, a Soweto orphan whom we meet first in the late 1950s cleaning latrines. Highly intelligent and entirely self-motivated [she developed her mathematical brilliance by counting the barrels she carries to empty, gradually making her calculations more complex], she organises the operation of the latrine office before a serious accident brings her into contact with a drunken engineer who leads South Africa's nuclear programme.
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