This week I finished another of the books I adopted from Waterstone’s in London. The stack is dwindling and I now only have two books left. I either need to make them last or plan another trip to the U.K. But with books like Matt Haig’s The Humans, Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London, and (this week’s read) Jonas Jonasson’s The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, that’s going to be hard to do.
As you may have guessed from what is one of the longest titles of any book I’ve ever read, Jonasson’s book is about a 100-year old man who does indeed climb out of a window – the window belonging to the old folks’ home he has grown sick of. But he doesn’t disappear. Instead, he heads out on an adventure that includes (but isn’t limited to) stealing a suitcase full of money from a biker gang, befriending an elephant, and the odd murder or two (completely accidental, well, except for that one….).
Mixed in with his adventures, Allan (the 100-year old man) recounts his life. Allan is very much a go-with-the-flow kind of guy, especially if that flow involves a helping or ten of vodka. This lackadaisical attitude and an aptitude for explosives gets him involved in some of the major affairs in history over the past century from taking both sides in the Spanish Civil War, to getting on Stalin’s bad side (is there a good one?), to throwing back drinks with Truman, to helping create the atom bomb and then accidentally giving the plans to the Russians.
Although I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good laugh while learning a little history, it does drag a bit after the first half. Luckily, it picks up again toward the end of the book. There are funny moments, but more of a oh-that’s-clever/cute/unexpected funny rather than a people-are-looking-at-me-oddly-because-I-keep-belting-out-with-laughter funny. Still, it’s an entertaining read and has me looking forward to the next book in my stack, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, also by Jonas Jonasson.
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TAMMIE PAINTER IS THE AUTHOR OF THE TRIALS OF HERCULES: BOOK ONE OF THE OSTERIA CHRONICLES AND AN ARTIST WHO DEDICATES HERSELF TO THE TEDIUM OF CREATING IMAGES WITH COLORED PENCILS.