Title: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
Author: Jonas Jonasson
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
“From the author of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared comes a picaresque tale of how one person’s actions can have far-reaching-even global-consequences 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 plain despair. But Nombeko takes a different path. She finds work as a housecleaner and eventually makes her way up to the position of chief advisor, at the helm of one of the world’s most secret projects. Here is where the tale merges with then diverges from reality. South Africa developed six nuclear missiles in the 1980s, then voluntarily dismantled them in 1994.
This is the story of the seventh missile, the one that was never supposed to have existed. Nombeko Mayeki knows too much about it, and now she’s on the run from both the South African justice system and the most terrifying secret service in the world. The fate of the planet now lies in Nombeko’s hands. Jonasson introduces us to a cast of eccentrics: a nerve-damaged American Vietnam deserter, twin brothers who are officially only one person, three careless Chinese girls, an angry young woman, a potato-growing baroness, the Swedish king and the prime minister. Quirky and utterly unique, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden is a charming and humorous account of one young woman’s unlikely adventure.”
“…one young woman’s unlikely adventure” Unlikely? More like preposterous! This book is entirely unbelieveable, farcial and absurd. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. Had it not been for the glorious motley crew of characters I think I would have struggled with a storyline quite this conincidental and ludicrous. There is little doubt that a significant suspension of belief is required for this kind of narrative.
I simply adored Nombeko and her unlikely cast of curious companions and it was they that buoyed me onwards when the plot took a dip in pace. I was drawn in by the political undercurrents of seventies South Africa and Sweden and philosophical themes of identity and belonging, all woven together by a truly odd series of events.
Some have described this as laugh-out-loud funny; whilst I wouldn’t go quite that far, I certainly giggled once or twice and smiled the rest of the way through. A fun, bizarre and refreshing ride, this book is an acquired taste that won’t appeal to everyone but, to me at least, it was both entertaining and endearing.
If you like this, you might like: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman