Review: The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules by Catharina Ingleman-Sundberg

Title: The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules

Author: Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

Published: Pan Macmillan AU January 2014

Listen to an Excerpt

Status: Read from January 09 to 11, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Lily of the Valley retirement home was once a haven for Martha Anderson and her friends, but now under new management, and renamed Diamond House, the group had become victims of rate rises and repeated service cuts. Management’s decision to not provide decorations for the Christmas tree is the last straw for Martha who, after watching a television documentary, decides they would all be better off in a prison cell than as clients of Diamond House. Escaping the home is just the first step of a masterful scheme that includes the ‘League of Pensioners’ living the high life in Stockholm’s most exclusive hotel, a trip to the national art museum and a relaxing stay in a minimum security institution…but not everything goes to plan.

I can’t help but draw some comparisons between The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules and The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by author, Jonas Jonasson, the two books share a similar cover design, title, a ‘senior’ protagonist and both author’s are Swedish to begin with, but in truth there are few similarities.

While Allan Karlsson’s only plan is to escape his centenarian celebrations at the care home, Martha and her gang make meticulous plans for their break out and subsequent adventures with a clear goal in mind. The plot is largely straightforward with their initial schemes escalating when things don’t go exactly to plan. And things go wrong – a wild storm, a curious Yugoslav Mafia member and an ambitious hotel housekeeper, all add excitement and a touch of danger to the pensioners enterprise.

Ingelman-Sundberg plays it straight where Jonasson comedic sense wanders into the absurd. There is humor of course in a group of old age pensioners rebellion against society’s ‘rules’, the care home’s restrictions and their crime spree, certainly enough to raise a chuckle or three.

Commentary on the marginalisation of the elderly and their vulnerability to the power of care institutions, more concerned with profit margins than the well-being of their clientele, is inevitable though tempered by the idea of ‘growing old disgracefully’. You can’t help but admire the group’s sense of fun and mischief.

I read the English translation of the novel which I think was well done. I did find the pace a little uneven and thought perhaps overall the novel was a little too long.

I did enjoy The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules, it’s an entertaining, feel good crime caper which will have you cheering for the elderly rebels on the wrong side of the law.

Available to purchase from

PanMacmillan I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

AmazonUS I Bookdepository


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. laurelrainsnow
    Jan 19, 2014 @ 03:22:39

    I am a big fan of those who break the rules when life (and bureaucracies) toss them unexpected challenges. Sounds like a fun read.



  2. Leeswammes
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 04:20:24

    Nice review! I was wondering about this book, I’ve seen it around as it’s out in Dutch too. Sounds like a fun read. I loved The 100 yo Man too.



  3. Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 12:36:36

    I have the 100 Year Old Man to read (it’s in shipping), and love the sound of this. It’s always good to know when a book’s a bit long and patchy, helps with expectations doesn’t it!



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