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The Little Old Lady who Broke all the Rules Reveiuw by Lauren Redmond

Lauren Redmond By Lauren Redmond Published on March 24, 2017

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Title- the Little Old Lady Who Broke all the Rules

Author- Catharina Ingelman- Sundberg

Publisher- Pan

Date of Publication- 2012/2014

Genre- General Fiction and Humour

Rating- 4/5 stars

Meet Martha Anderson. She’s 79, undermined in a Swedish nursing home under the devious and scheming Nurse Barbara and has dreams of escaping and robbing a bank. Together with her four determined friends Rake, Brains, Anna-Greta and Christina they escape and go on a crime spree after discovering that prisoners in Sweden are seemingly better treated than old people are in nursing homes. The five escape and start out on an epic crime spree only in the twilight years of their lives. Lead by Martha, a Miss Marple in reverse, they set out to orchestrate the perfect crime. If they can manage to pull off the perfect crime they’ll be rewarded with a promise of luxury in prison for the rest of their lives, luxury compared to the former confines of the Nursing home that is. However, this geriatric crime spree does not go accordingly to plan- after a botched robbery, zimmer frames and all the gang decide to kidnap- but not in the usual sense (they still have some intact morals!) They kidnap two paintings from the Swedish National Gallery and hold them to ransom, thus pulling off the biggest art heist in all of Swedish history.


The art heist all goes accordingly to plan- where the retirees just so manage to stroll out of the gallery with two priceless works of art, thanks to the failure of the security staff. The robbery from the gallery- one of my favourite scenes from the book is executed perfectly. Most of their plans are executed in an equally clever manner and many times I found myself hoping these ‘villains’ would succeed. The many times in the book in which I thought all would go terribly wrong everything just seems to work out in the end anyway. These Robin Hoods seem to lose their ill-gotten gains just as quick as they gain them including the paintings and the ransom money. It isn’t helped by the fact the five elderly people are being chased by two police investigators- Lonnberg and Strombeck who are completely disbelieving of the fact five elderly people could pull off such a crime. Sundberg ups the ante by the addition of Petra the art Student and Liza the inmate both of which also join in the chase for the artworks and the money.


The story has many genuinely clever ways in which the crimes are executed and the items are seized and hidden. Also included were instances of genuine warmth and want in the characters. All characters are lively, determined to fulfil their quest and have an unceasing thirst for adventure. It’s a book full of genuine warmth, heart and humour in which five of the most unlikeliest criminals possible embark on an even unlikelier crime spree in which nobody is truly hurt and all the oldies want to do is have fun.

The plot is also rather fast paced, scattered with humorous incidents and include many twists and turns which made me genuinely hope ‘The League of Pensioners’ would overcome it.


However, many instances in the book though certainly fitting in this story- forced me to suspend a huge amount of disbelief in order to simply enjoy the story- such as the incompetence of the policemen to admit the oldies can pull this off and the failure of the villainous nursing home staff- this makes the book seem silly but somehow it works for the humour.

There are also humorous repetitions of personal traits in the characters namely Anna Greta’s horsey laugh and Rake’s continuously being spiked on Martha’s knitting needles. This may be done to accentuate the humour but for some, this may come across as annoying and less humorous.

This is a highly enjoyable book and unlike several other Swedish books I have tried and did not like this was different. The characters are all lively, full of adventure and the plot though not wholly different but is executed in a unique fashion. This time, it isn’t experienced mafia tycoons pulling off this heist but inexperienced oldies growing older disgracefully. The main theme of the book shows us never to pre-judge anyone and their capabilities while to always aiming to have fun and escape the ordinary trials of life. Simple, heart-warming and funny at its core, -what’s not to love about five badly behaved oldies who just want to have fun?!


an Irish student interested in pursuing a career in art, literature and crafts!

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