The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
Imagine if you will that you are one of group of elderly people stuck living in a facility that is bleeding you dry while providing less and less in return (except for the medication to keep you quiet). Imagine you've just discovered that your conditions are worse than what prisoners in jail have. What would you do, if you found yourself in this situation? Well, some people would try to figure out how to make yourself and your friends into criminals to improve your living situation. That's exactly what Martha does when she dreams up the perfect crime for her "League of Pensioners."
You have to admit that just the idea of this novel is enough to make you chuckle. A bunch of old people, hobbling around with their Zimmer frames, pulling off a major crime is just hysterical. What's more, it isn't actually impossible for a bunch of smart septuagenarians and octogenarians to try something like this. Think about it - we're all living longer, doing things that keep us physically stronger and more mentally agile these days. Who's to say that 80 isn't the new 60 or even 50? If so, they could easily be capable of all kinds of mischief, as improbable as this may sound.
Furthermore, what's wrong with a little fictional criminal activity where no one gets hurt these days? We've certainly had our share of blood and gore mixed with intrigue and cheats who prey on the innocent and weak in society. For this, I have to say that Ingelman-Sundberg's book is truly a blessing. What she gives us is a group of adorable people you'd want to have in your life. There's not a mean bone in any of their fragile bodies, and here they are, trying to live out the last days of their lives in dignity and peace. When refused that little thing, of course you want them to find a way to extract at least a tiny bit of revenge.
Of course, as we read this story, we see the pitfalls that Martha and her gang don't see coming. This is just Ingelman-Sundberg's way of making us hope that they'll ultimately succeed - at least partially, if not completely. As they attempt to cope with these problems and falter along their way, we can laugh and keep on rooting for them. In short, Martha's gang is charming, and we should praise Ingelman-Sundberg for giving them to us in such a delightful story. (Also, let's not forget to give kudos to Rod Bradbury for the enchanting translation of this book into English from the Swedish.)
This doesn't mean this book is perfect, because in fact, it isn't. Several bits and pieces either don't add up or are left hanging when we finish this novel. Even so, to expand on this would sound petty and finicky (not to mention give away spoilers that I refuse to reveal). Instead, I will say that this book comes pretty close to being faultless, and even its flaws cannot detract all that much from the lovely romp that Ingelman-Sundberg takes us on. If you're looking for something fun to read, something to take your mind off all the other troubles in the world, you should read this book, which, I understand is the first in her series of "League of Pensioners" novels! For that, I'll give it a warm recommendation with four and a half stars out of five (and I'll probably look to get the next ones as well).
"The Little Old Lady who Broke all the Rules" by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg, released January 1st 2014 from Pan Macmillan, is available from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books (USA, Canada & Australia), iTunes (iBook or audiobook), The Book Depository (free worldwide delivery), new or used from Alibris or Better World Books as well as from an IndieBound store near you.