After reading A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (you can read my review here) I needed something light-hearted and easy to read. The copy I’d ordered of The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared had come into the library and it seemed the perfect choice after my last challenging read.
The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is about Allan Karlsson who, on his 100th birthday, climbs out of the window and escapes from the old people’s home where he lives. And this is where his adventurous journey begins, which includes brushes with criminals, a suitcase full of money, a series of murders, and hiding from the police. As Allan’s adventure continues, his past life is revealed – a life in which he has, remarkably, played an important role in historical events.
This book was certainly one I needed to read at the time. It’s light-hearted, funny in places, and the writing style is simple and easy to read. The story is far-fetched and absurd – I had to suspend my disbelief many times – but I felt as if its heart was in the right place.
The plot feels carefully planned and events slot nicely into place as the book progresses. However, I think the plot’s absurdity is unfortunately at the expense of the characters, as we are left with cardboard cut-out characters that I couldn’t really invest in. I did warm to Allan and his friends after a while however, particularly Allan’s outlook on life that ‘things are what they are, and whatever will be will be’ – something I could learn from, I think. At times, though, this attitude did begin to grate – how can a man who is completely uninterested in politics agree to help a number of historical world leaders without finding out what his help would mean? Although, perhaps I am taking the book too seriously.
The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a nice, if far-fetched and farcical, entertaining tale that is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. It was the perfect anecdote to my previous book and was ideal for reading as I sat in the garden enjoying the sunny weather we’ve been enjoying here in the UK.
Have you read The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared? What did you think? A film adaptation of the book was released recently – have you watched it? How did it compare to the book?