Book Review: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

Author: Jonas Jonasson

I’ve just finished reading The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. The title is a mouthful and the reason I wanted to grab it from the bookshelf. It’s written by Jonas Jonasson and based in Sweden, and you may recognise the book’s title because it’s been made into a film (which I’ve heard is good).

The title sums up the beginning of the story. Of course, you then get to follow him on his adventure while the author regularly takes us back to the mischievous things he got up to in the past. Being aged 100, he’s seen a lot of history.cover

I actually finished this book on my second attempt after losing interest a few chapters in first time around. I’m not sure how, because I was really keen on it when I tried again, but perhaps I was just distracted and couldn’t find the time to read. A few people have told me that they gave this book a go but gave up when the historical events and ‘throwbacks’ perplexed them. The old man has been through a lot and met many important figures throughout his lifetime and I can understand that if you’re not a history buff, it can be a little intimidating.

I’m not a know-it-all about history myself, particularly with this story referring to events which happened in many different countries, but I cracked on through those chapters and enjoyed reading every page. My suggestion is that you should accept that you might not completely understand some sections of the book, and instead just read it well to know what’s going on and follow the character’s situations.

Be patient, because I enjoyed it more and more as the story went on.

When the author isn’t flipping back to the past, we get to follow the centenarian as he heads off to see where life takes him. He leaves his care home wearing his slippers, without any plans and not much to carry with him. It doesn’t take him long to get into some bother as he pinches a heavy, valuable suitcase for the fun of it, jumps on a bus and sees how far his change will take him.

He meets some odd characters as he ambles on, and pretty much picks them up and takes them with him for the destination-less-journey. His nonchalant attitude to life (what he has left of it, that is) helps him to dodge the authorities, police and a gang as he gets caught up in a few murders which he doesn’t seem entirely fussed about. He’s seen enough in his life to be bothered by death.

It’s written to be light-hearted and funny. I didn’t find myself laughing out loud but it was certainly an enjoyable read. Therefore, the historical parts I’ve been speaking about aren’t entirely accurate and fun is made of some situations. Allan finds himself in some seriously difficult circumstances but slips out of them using his quick-wit, even when atom bombs, spies and Putin are involved.

If you’re after a new book to get stuck into which is warm, cheerful and clever, then I absolutely recommend this one. It’s very well-written. I know that I could suggest this story to my dad as well as my younger sister and they would both enjoy it the same. It can be difficult to find a book which appeals to so many different readers, but I think this could be it.

I’ve been told that the film is worth a watch, I just hope that it doesn’t ruin the colourful vision of the story as imagined in my head. I’m keen to try another book by Jonansson called The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden (another unusual title catching my eye), so let me know your thoughts on it if it’s already on your bookshelf!


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