Jonas Jonasson is the author who wrote The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Thankfully, I can say the same for this book, too! Jonasson's unique sense of humour returns in The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden. It's amazing to believe that the novel I read was a translation from Swedish.
The book starts by introducing us to two different sets of characters. In South Africa, black "illiterate" Nombeko is a sanitation worker who lives in a shack. She has a remarkable talent for numbers, doing advanced arithmetic in her head quite unexpected of a black person in South Africa in the 1970s. We also get to know the twins Holger and Holger living in Sweden, whose father is a fanatic republican with a crazy idea; he registers only one of his sons' birth, so that they could take turns in going to school and staying home to learn all about their father's plans to depose the monarchy.
My favourite parts were the shows of Nombeko's intelligence. In each new situation, she bides her time until she can get out of her most recent difficulty. It is not probable to believe that all of the things that happen in the novel could really happen to one person, but the way Nombeko finds a way out of each problem is interesting and keeps the story flowing.
I tried something new in my reading, which is that I was reading two books at the same time. This was due to a "read-along" I was doing with somebody else who reads slower than I do. I kept having to wait for her to catch up, and in those moments I came back to Jonasson's novel. As a result, both books have felt like they were taking far too long to progress and come to any sort of climax or conclusion. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden is a pretty long book, considering its humorous approach, so sometimes I did feel like I was really dragging myself through the story, wishing it would move a little faster. The plot events are sometimes years apart, with seven years here, twelve years there, just waiting for a safe time or a perfect opportunity to take the next step. I think the book could have been better, had it moved along at a faster pace. Sometimes when it came to reading time, I preferred to look at my phone or use some other distraction to get me through my lunch hour. I think the final third of the book went a lot more quickly because I was racing to find out the conclusion.
While the story was a bit ridiculous, the funny points of the novel pretty much made up for it. Jonasson certainly writes with his tongue in his cheek, making fun of the police force, political ambassadors, and Swedish people in general.
I will definitely read any other book Jonasson writes, as I enjoy his writing style (and the work of his translators!), and his subject material is so different and fresh as to keep me intrigued.
This review was submitted by guest blogger Jemma.