Format: Audio Book
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 341 pages (9 hours, 53 minutes)
Narrator: Marin Ireland
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Date of Publication: 8th September, 2020 (first published on 25th April, 2019)
Rating: 5/5 stars
I have tried audio books before but could never complete. I would find then difficult to concentrate on and my attention kept wandering. When Libro.fm started offering free early listening copies of books, I decided to try again. This was perhaps the perfect book for listening because I never had any problem with it at all.
“When a failed bank robber escapes into an apartment filled with people during an open house, a group of six strangers are suddenly forced to get to know one another quickly and under extreme circumstances. But what will be the result?
In captivity we meet Roger and Anna-Lena, a recently retired couple who are on a manic hunt for fixer-uppers because they don’t know how to fix their own marriage. They have the distinction of shopping at every Ikea in Sweden—and those are some of the most romantic moments they ever shared. Then there is Zara, a wealthy director of a bank who has never cared for poor people or their problems (and isn’t shy about saying so). But when tragedy strikes in her life, she becomes addicted to visiting real-estate open houses to see how the middle-classes live—and possibly to find a suitable place to commit suicide. Julia and Danijela are a young lesbian couple with a newborn baby who can’t agree on anything. Their opposite and idiosyncratic home preferences are making them increasingly anxious about their chances of spending a lifetime together. And Estelle, an eighty-year-old woman who has lived long enough to be unimpressed by some bank robber waving a gun in her face. Despite the story she tells them all, Estelle hasn’t really come to the apartment to view it for her daughter, and her husband really isn’t outside parking the car.
As police surround the premises and television channels are broadcasting live, the pressure of an increasingly tense situation mounts, causing each person to reveal more and more about themselves to each other. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.
A riotous comedy, Anxious People is about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and a group of very anxious people who experience exactly the same events in wildly different ways.“
While the book is actually about a bank robbery and a hostage situation, we see the story told from multiple points of view. We see how each character is connected to the main plot in ways that we would not have imagined. We see how a single event from years ago creates ripples that keep compounding to reach a place where we are helpless to change the course of our lives. The six strangers come together in such a cohesive manner that you cannot imagine a better way for them to exist.
The narrator, Marin Ireland, is a legend! She consistently changes the tone of her voice and dialogue delivery subtly for each character, so by about 20% of the book, you feel like different people narrate each character. The entire story takes place during the course of a single day. We have a house showing by a real estate agent that gets totally unrelated people together. The retired couple trying to do what the other likes just so that they don’t fall into a rut, the young lesbian couple trying to find a forever home, an old lady trying to deal with the loss of her partner, and the wealthy lady who doesn’t really look like she wants to live there, all of them have a story of their own which incidentally has a connection with the others in the house. Add to this the bank robber who ends up with these misfits with no intention of robbing them, and we have a very interesting story.
The camaraderie that the strangers show towards someone who clearly has fallen into bad times was heartwarming. The father-son police duo also has a separate character arc of their own, and we see them warming up towards each other and showing that they care for each other. The book was brilliantly written and narrated. This was probably the best pick for an audiobook. Even though I listened to the book during my commute to and from work every day, I couldn’t help but tear up at certain places. Fredrik Backman never fails to amaze me with his honest writing, and I can’t wait to read all of his books.
I’ve written about the author in my review of Beartown that you can find here.
TL;DR: A beautiful story that will leave you both smiling and crying at different parts
Do you like audio books?
Which one would you recommend me to pick up next?
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