My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises, by Frederik Bachman
Fredrik Bachman’s A Man Called Ove is a bittersweet, heartwarming and very Swedish tale of a depressed cantankerous old sod who finds his way back because people can’t help liking him and treating him with respect, and he can’t help reciprocating. Bachman’s follow-up is My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises, which I bought for the title alone. Almost-eight-year-old Elsa’s batty granny was the centre of her life and her best friend, until she went and died. In her youth Granny was a skilled battlefield surgeon in war-torn areas of the world, and she brought many of her worst-case patients back to Sweden with her. Elsa spends the rest of the book after her death decoding the fantastically consistent fairy tales Granny used to tell her about magical kingdoms and creatures and heroes and monsters, which turn out to be the troubles and traumas of the adults around her, coded so a child can understand them.