Britt Marie is such a wonderful anti hero. We meet her as she finds herself traded in for a younger model by her 'perfect' husband Kent, who is referred to throughout the book by Britt in the hushed tones of the subdued and oppressed. Let's face it--Britt Marie is a difficult woman. A woman who keeps 'living' at bay by rules. She is a woman exhibiting all the signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and a woman who finds it hard to express emotions in the normal way. What she does express, at out of place moments, are her decided rules about behaviour and tidiness and her compulsive obsession with cleaning--everything! Continually! Somehow her remarks, out of left field, often seem to others as meaningful. To Britt they are statements of fact. Her check list of determining a person's character includes how they arrange their cutlery drawer and whether or not they place coasters under their drinks. Which leads to some fascinating moments of skewed connection.
Britt is thrown on her own resources, and with the help of an exhausted employment officer, ends up as the caretaker of a recreation centre in the dying town of Borg. (The employment officer and Britt's interactions are a thing of joy. I loved those moments) Britt's relationship with Borg is a thing of wonder and joy. As are all the relationships she forms in this dying town. A town broken and down but not out. A metaphor that matches well with Britt's story. Britt finds herself immersed in the kids' soccer team--a team without a field or a coach--and somehow Britt and the Recreation Centre form an apex for the town's rejuvenation and belief in itself.
It is here that she comes into her own, albeit by her peculiarities, rather than intent. She forms friendships in a very Britt way--and they are delightful.
Her one regret, apart from forever wondering if Kent is being looked after, seems to be her loss of her balcony from which she views her world. Her safe place, of comfort and retreat which has now disappeared, along with her husband. As Britt tells us, 'A balcony can change everything.'
Her way to solve the problems besetting her is to clean, and clean, and clean, and then clean again. It's soothing, claiming, and something she can control.
And the people she meets are just plain quirky and yet so true.
The number of times the name 'Somebody' caused me to come to a confused momentary halt was confounding. Every time! I read the word and even though it's capitalized I looked for the rest of the phase or sentence. Somebody is somebody's name in this weirdly wonderful book. And it tripped me up every darn time! Played havoc with my sentence construction and predictive reading abilities! And that too, is just plain part of the book's charm.
I simply loved this book!
p.s. I am officially converted to the use of baking soda--for everything! Thank you Britt!