If you like humour, history and a bit of serenditpity mixed with characters that you’d like to believe were fantasy but you know people like them so you are willing to believe then you’d more than likely enjoy this delightful novel written by Jonas Jonasson.
The stye reminds me of Bill Bryson with his wit and ironical view of history. A quote by an unknown “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” sums up this tale of an orphaned girl, Nombeko, from Soweto (the genius) due to the stupidity of others educates herself, becomes the manager of the Soweto latrine business, becomes wealthy only to be run over by the head scientist of South Africa’s atomic bomb program and is indentured to him. Her genius makes her invaluable to him (as he is stupid) but it also puts her at great risk.
A second story runs parallel to this – the adoration of the King of Sweden by a Swedish postal worker but this sours when the king bonks him on the head with his walking cane and he spends the rest of his life trying to put an end to the monarchy. To this end only one of his identical twins is registered as having been born. Again one is genius, the other stupid.
Finally we see Nombeko arrive in Sweden, meeting and falling in love with the non-existent twin along with a huge crate that has to be got rid of. This takes a deal of time and some fantastical events. Serendipity at its best.
Would I recommend this unlikely tale. Yes I would but with a warning that about three quarters of the way through it seems to hit a patch that it would be easy to leave it at that point. My husband did. I continued on and the ending was worth any ploughing I had to do. I particularly loved reliving the history of the time and watching how cleverly it was woven into a story that was as unlikely (or was it) as it was funny. A lovely piece of quirk.