Friday, 11 January 2013

Book Review: A hundred-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared

No spoilers, promise!

I recently finished reading 'A hundred-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared' by Jonas Jonasson. The title might seem a bit long winded, but it's one of the best books I've ever read. Allan Karlsson is the novel's protagonist, as featured in the title, and the reader instantly warms to him and his candid way of expressing himself. The narrative is partly set in the present, where it follows Allan's adventures after he climbs out of the window of his nursing home, and partly set in the past as a means of describing Allan's life so far. As Allan is one hundred years old, the narrative of the past spans a number of important events over the last century such as the First and Second World Wars, the Cold War, and the reign of numerous American presidents and British Prime Ministers. Allan happens to play a significant part in all these key events, and his involvement is described with great detail and humour.

From Allan's humble beginnings in Sweden with barely any education, he meets some incredible people and travels halfway across the world in his quest to find adventure. He gets into numerous scrapes, including some very serious ones involving major political figures, and always manages to escape with his life intact as a result of his wit and intelligence. Allan's characterisation is extremely vivid, as is the characterisation of Herbert Einstein, Allan's loyal friend. The author successfully creates a vast array of characters, both past and present, without confusing the reader.

The novel juxtaposes the criminal underworld with Allan's supposed innocence, although he has unwittingly committed many crimes of his own over the years and commits more after he climbs out of his window as a hundred-year-old man. His candid way of describing these mishaps provides many laugh-out-loud moments for the reader and builds on his already effective characterisation. Although he has actually had a lot of influence over major world events, he still continues to be the doddery hundred-year-old man who climbed out of the window in his slippers in the eyes of the reader. Although the adventures in the novel sometimes border on the surreal and the ridiculous, the reader is compelled to keep reading in order to find out what other situations Allan will find himself in. At no point does the narrative become too far-fetched to follow coherently. The reader imagines that anything is possible where Allan Karlsson is concerned, which was surely the author's intention.

This is a humorous, heart warming and inspirational novel which will grip your imagination from start to finish. Here are the links to the book on Amazon:

Kindle edition

Paperback edition

Has anyone else read this book? Let me know what you thought!

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