The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

Title: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

Author: Jonas Jonasson

Publisher: Harper Collins

Release Date: April 2014

Source: All Books

Rating: 4.5/5

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On June 14, 2007, the king and the prime minister of Sweden went missing from a gala banquet at the royal castle.  Later it was said that both had fallen ill, but the truth is different.  The real story starts much earlier, in 1961, with the birth of Nombeko Mayeki in a shack in Soweto.  Nombeko was fated to grow up fast and die early in her poverty-stricken township, be it from drugs, alcohol, or just plan despair.  But Nombeko takes a different path.  She finds work as a housecleaner and eventually makes her way up to the the position of the chief advisor, at the helm of one of the world’s most secret projects. (Goodreads)

Jonas Jonasson’s novel The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden is probably one of the best books I’ve read in a while.  It’s my first Jonasson novel, I heard about it after my parents saw the film based on The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, and raved about how fantastic the story was.  I figured that if the film was great, the novel must also be amazing, but instead I found this thrifty find for only a few dollars at All Books, one of Ottawa’s best independent bookstores — and boy, am I ever glad I read it.

First, I will begin with a word of warning: the suspension of disbelief is absolutely crucial.  Jonasson’s characters are all well-rounded, believable (albeit still exaggerated) characters — there is no doubt that truly gifted and intelligent people can be born into horrible situations, that a potato farmer is a long-lost descendent of a baron, or that a man can exist without legally existing on paper — Jonasson’s story is somewhat based in realistic and truthful circumstances, however, it is the wild and crazy adventure on which these characters embark that force you to simply forget reality in order to fully enjoy this outrageous story.

I feel like I’ve recently read a few novels in which multiple storylines intertwine and converge into one, but I don’t think any of them have done it as well as Jonasson has in this novel.  Jonasson’s talent really shines in creating such diverse and intriguing characters with such fantastic and rich backstories, throwing all of these characters together, and letting the story unfold and tie up all loose ends in an extravagantly complex plot.

Unfortunately, despite how much I loved this book, I cannot give it a full 5/5.  Instead, choosing a 4.75/5 because I did find the beginning of the novel a little long-winded and difficult to get through.  However, despite its laboured start, this was an amazing novel and I think it will stick with me forever — it is truly such an amazing and creative piece of literature.

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