The quirky title of this book piques your curiosity and makes you want to know what will happen next. Unassuming Swede Allan Karlsson may be 100 years old but he is spirited, clever, funny, a tad tired and in need of a good stiff swig of vodka. Allan has had an extaordinary life and doesn’t want to see out the rest of his days in a retirement home where the matron is a dragon, and won’t let him drink or smoke. So he climbs out the window in his slippers and “disappears”.
What ensues is an incredible tale that switches back and forth between present day Allan on the run (more of a walk really) and a colourful recount of his life. As an explosives expert, Allan has met some of the world’s most influential political leaders – albeit unintentionally – from presidents Truman, Johnson and Nixon to Franco, Mao Tse-Tung, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, and found himself in the odd bit of trouble over the years. It is a far-fetched story but in a strange way, believable. If anything interesting is going to happen, it will happen to the unassuming Allan.
The present day story doesn’t move far from the retirement village and involves some petty and serious criminals, and a rescued elephant. However, the recount of the past sees the intrepid Allan travel the world, taking the reader with him as he finds himself on the Russian Front, trekking across the Himalayas and on the island of Bali sitting by the pool for 15 years sipping cocktails.
And the morale of the story… It’s never too late to start over.
This was a book club pick and a joy to read. Would highly recommend.
My rating: ★★★★