I enjoyed A Man Called Ove and Anxious People, so when this book was suggested for my book group it sounded fun. When I got into it, I wasn’t having very much fun. It’s long – 684 pages – and Backman spends a lot of time, in the beginning, introducing several stories and characters. And there is a lot of ice hockey! It just seemed very slow, and I wasn’t sure how much hockey and Swedish teenage angst I could take! So I set it aside and read the latest Anthony Horowitz. Although convoluted, it was much easier to follow.
Then I came back to The Winners determined to finish it before my group met. About halfway through the novel, there is a death that brings everything into focus. From there on out, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and all the ways in which people in the northern Sweden hockey-mad towns of Beartown and Hed work out their lives.
I finished it at 11:15 p.m. last night, and I am very glad I did. I learned in my book group today that this is the third book in a trilogy (the first two are Beartown and Us Against You) and it might have helped me get into this one if I had read those. But this is a great read, mostly for Backman’s great writing about people and for his insights into life, even if it comes with a huge serving of ice hockey!
I loved Beartown. We read it for Faith book group. There is also a very good Swedish tv version. I read Us Against Them. Wasn’t quite as good. The Winners is on my to be read shelf and I look forward to it with great anticipation.