The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson

And now for something completely different! I’m giving this a mini-review, for while this book can’t really be described as frothy, it’s light in tone and only cost 20p, so how could I resist. Allan Karlsson decides he’d rather not celebrate his centennial in a nursing home, run by Director Alice, so he makes a (slow) run for it. One thing leads to another, and he’s on the run from the police with a suitcase full of money and various accomplices eventually including an elephant named Sonya. The story is interspersed with tales from his incredible life up to that point, and once you read them you’ll understand why the nursing home is a little tame for Allan. It’s a big book; the author clearly never met a character, however minor, without an imaginative back-story that needed writing, and thankfully all are shared here. There are shades of Forest Gump in the way that Allan naively becomes involved with world leaders at key moments in history, but the gentle, dry, philosophical humour reminded me of Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

The present day events are mostly set in Sweden, you might recognise some of the place names if you’ve read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but the stories are very different. Allan is a gentle soul with a talent for making explosives, which was the catalyst for his life of travel and adventure, as well as many periods of incarceration. It’s amazing that he remains such a sympathetic and likable character given the chaos he perpetuates. The author has an incredible imagination, making the far-fetched stories seem possible. Worth getting for readers of all ages, it’s a bargain for such a big read (even at the US price) and is hugely entertaining.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Only 20p from Amazon.

US: $8.63 from Amazon.