The Hundred Year Old Man book is quirky, fun and like no other book I've read. For that reason alone, it's worthy of a book club discussion.
Originally a Swedish book, it has quickly become a phenomenon, being translated into several languages.
So much so, it is sitting at the top
of the best sellers list in several countries. A Swedish film company
have also bought the rights to turn it into a film and filming has
So what's all the fuss? It's certainly original and will have you laughing out loud. Or will it?
The author, Jonas Jonasson, is a successful Swedish journalist. He
recently had severe back pain and had to change his lifestyle
completely, selling his business and moving to a remote part of Sweden.
It was here that he finally wrote his first book, The hundred year old
man who climbed out of a window and disappeared. He had the title in his head for a long time but never quite got round to writing it. How glad he must be now
that he decided to make the move so he could focus on his book writing.
Expectations of fun, humour & a good read run high for this book just from reading the very unusual title, & to some extent, our expectations are fulfilled.
The image of a one hundred year old man escaping from his birthday party through his window in his "pee" slippers, & embarking on a long jaunt, having lots of adventures in odd company, which includes an elephant, is hilarious.
And, it's inline with adventures from when he was much younger, when
he travelled the world meeting famous, well known figures & took
part in various dramas which are equally as hilarious. There is so much
spontaneous laughter in this novel!
Of course we quickly learn that
the whole story is completely over the top & ridiculous BUT we
absorb a few lessons along the way.
So does that give you enough of the plot? Trying to explain the plot is in itself rather difficult, other than to say that it is about the hundred year old man, Allen, who lives in an old people's home, who decides, on his 100th birthday to climb out of his window so he doesn't have to attend his own birthday party.
What follows is a series of ludicrous events that gets sillier and
sillier as the old man tries to escape the police for accidentally taking
a suitcase full of money. He elicits the help of various strangers
along the way, who all become integral parts of the plot and the money.
At the same time, we get to understand more about the hundred year old man through a series of flash backs to his amazing life of bomb making. It covers a plethora of interesting and historical events that span the last one hundred years - communism in China, World Wars, The Cold War and much more. His interactions with various officials including Presidents and influential officers, is in itself quite unbelievable but highly entertaining all the same.
Just as the writer has had a lot of fun out of creating these characters & incidents, so, on the whole do we. Surely this is what Jonasson intends.
Old Age: The writer, in making his main character such an old man, certainly defies the traditional image of old people, slouched in plastic coated chairs, watching T.V. & smelling of pee.
Life: We can learn so much from Allen about living. We
should take more people at face value & take a more light hearted,
joyful, fun approach to life. He does seem to "free wheel" his way through life, stumbling into things rather than having a set plan. Maybe this is a better way to live.
Did you find the whole novel funny? Did you find different kinds of humour?
3. Are all the characters & their characteristics O.T.T? Which aren't?
4. Can you see any of the characters & their characteristics in people you know or politicians or celebrities? Surely most people know a Director Alice!
5. What do you learn from Allen's travels around the world?
6. Do you discover anything about the author from reading this book? For example what do you think his political persuasion is?
7. Has Allen's character changed your view on the elderly?
8. Was this book too long?
We all enjoyed this book giving it a 7/10.
The book makes for easy reading & it easily moves between the two time lines of his life, as a younger man & as the 100 year old. The two phases have much in common though to different degrees for Allan's exploits are outrageous at both levels.
His earlier life helps us to understand his reaction to the boring hundredth birthday at the Old People's Home. His life has been anything but boring, normal or ordinary. It's fitting that he gets into such scrapes in his old age.
We were slightly sceptical after reading the book, that there would not be enough to discuss for a book club, but we did find plenty. Some of the group wanted the book to have more depth, where as others felt this would have ruined the fun and quirky nature of The Hundred Year Old Man...
All in all, this is a very fun read that you will find to be very different. We also learned a few things about some key historical events and wanted to know more and find out if there was any truth to some of the events.
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