Oldies art heist lost in translation



Translated from Swedish by Rod Bradbury


I picked up this international bestselling novel as the cover art reminded me of Jonas Jonasson’s excellent ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.’ Unfortunately this book contained few of the belly laughs and galloping plotlines that that did.

This is the story of five old age pensioners in Sweden who are tired of the way society treats them. They leave their care home in a bid to launch new careers as thieves as they notice that prisoners are treated better in jail than the elderly in old people’s homes.

Egged on by central character Martha, the League of Pensioners become a daring and cunning gang of criminals carrying out a high profile art theft and even serving time behind bars.

The author wrote the book as a protest and to highlight the issues facing the elderly; “I get so frustrated when I read about harsh savings on elderly care. These older people have built today’s society and made it possible for many of us to have a good life. But when they are ‘past it’ they are treated very badly.”

Whilst it is a well-meaning story with a good heart and some comic touches, it is far too silly and improbable. A lot more detail would’ve made for a very good novel indeed. Characters needed more definition for me. I couldn’t really hear their voices or get to know them. The plot also leapt around a fair bit and featured too many easy resolutions and happy coincidences and not enough jeopardy.

I get the feeling a lot of charm and quality of writing was maybe lost in translation.

However, it is an ok book and a feel-good tale and I just hope I can be like Anna-Greta, Rake, Brains, Christina and particularly Martha when I get to their age.

Recommended for fans of light reading and gentle humour – or if you’re bored in your old folks home and need some inspiration for excitement!


Notes on the author – Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

  • Swedish author and former marine archaeologist and journalist
  • Has written 17 books covering science, cartoons, children’s and historical fiction
  • Her work has been published in 17 countries worldwide

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