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Zomerhuis met zwembad by Herman Koch

Zomerhuis met zwembad (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Herman Koch

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5244519,294 (3.47)23
Title:Zomerhuis met zwembad
Authors:Herman Koch
Info:Amsterdam Anthos cop. 2011
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned

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Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch (2011)

  1. 00
    The Dinner by Herman Koch (Anonymous user)

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English (23)  Dutch (17)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (45)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Marc is a GP with a thriving practice, a husband and a father to two adolescent girls. He's also a big jerk, but if you read Herman Koch's previous novel, The Dinner, this will come as no surprise to you. He hates his patients' bodies and petty concerns. Most of his patients are artists of some sort or another and he hates to attend the various openings and viewings they invite him to. Arrogant and contemptuous in his inner life, he nonetheless manages to put forth a genial and easy going face to the world and his patients like him. Then he meets Ralph Meier, a well known stage actor who takes a liking to him (and especially to Marc's wife) and invites Marc and his family to join them at the Summer House With Swimming Pool they've rented for the season. Marc has his own, less than admirable reasons to want to be there and so he engineers things so that his wife's misgivings are overridden. And then things begin to go seriously wrong for everyone present.

Less extreme than The Dinner, this new novel still features a few reprehensible individuals. Koch manages to make Marc, despite his own horribleness, into the one the reader is pulling for. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Jul 27, 2014 |
Like a lot of other people, I read The Dinner some time ago. While I didn’t love it, it was interesting and an excellent book for discussion (and argument) for book clubs. When I saw Herman Koch had a new book translated into English being released, I thought I might like this one better. Summer House with Swimming Pool is about a GP (family physician) who has made a fatal mistake and is being brought up before the medical board. How did things come to this? What did happen last summer – and did Marc really make a mistake?

The book opens with Marc discussing what he thinks about when he’s seeing patients – it’s not particularly pretty, and it’s really not what you hope your GP is thinking about during your consultation (naturally, it was at this point that I was discussing my Kindle with my GP – embarrassment central!). Already, we’re starting to get an idea Marc is not your typical kind-hearted doctor…he doesn’t appear to like his patients or what he does. He does seem to like his status in society and that his patients give him tickets to gallery openings and plays. It’s here that Ralph Meier is introduced to us. He’s an actor of some renown, mainly in theatre. However, he’s got a new role in TV series which is going to be BIG. Unfortunately, Ralph becomes sick and eventually dies (choosing euthanasia). Marc is told by Judith (Ralph’s wife) that he’s a murderer. By accident or design?

The narrative then moves back to a summer spent in another country where Marc and his family just ‘happen’ to meet up with Ralph and Judith. Their children hit it off, so it’s a natural progression for the family to camp in the grounds of the Meier family’s summer house (yes, it does have a swimming pool). Much time is spent by the adults drinking and smoking with the odd swim, but then things start to irk Marc. Why does Ralph get his gear off at the slightest of whims? Why does his daughter insinuate that Ralph has pulled down her bikini bottoms? Marc’s getting very suspicious of Ralph and things come to a head when they start chatting up a few young ladies. That part of the night ends badly, but there’s much worse to come when something happens to Marc’s daughter. Who is responsible? Is Marc right in taking matters into his own hands?

I found Summer House with Swimming Pool quite slow to start – Marc’s observations on his patients were initially just creepy but as the novel went on, I found them difficult to stomach. I didn’t like Marc as a character (in fact, the majority of the characters in this book are distinctly unlikeable) and I felt there just wasn’t something right with him. As for doing what he did – I could see where he was coming from as a father, but as a doctor, it’s plain unprofessional. I didn’t like how Ralph’s illness was only alluded to, as I thought this watered down what Marc did and I was unsure if I should be sympathetic towards the Meiers (even though Ralph is quite sexist and strange). I also found some of the dialogue stilted – whether that’s because of the translation or to emphasise Marc’s oddness, I don’t know.

I think I’ve done my dash when Herman Koch. While this book will generate discussion, I just don’t have the inclination to read about moral and ethical dilemmas over and over, particularly when I thought there was a clear-cut answer and the characters are not worth the argument. This book left me craving something with a happy ending, as it’s devoid of positivity.

Thank you to Crown Publishing for the eBook.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | Jul 19, 2014 |
The esteemed doctor in this book doesn't take much time before he reveals his true self, his total disregard for his patients, and his self-centered disregard for those he is supposed to protect.

“A general practitioner's task is simple. He doesn't have to heal people, he only has to make sure they don't sidestep him and make it to the specialists and the hospitals.”

There is no doubt that Herman Koch is a talented writer. He strings this story together quite nicely. It's the story that he chooses to tell that causes a problem for me.

I can't imagine a father outside of perhaps a nudist colony who would not be upset by a slimy old man going naked around his early teen and preteen daughters. This book is filled with self-centered, perverted dirtbags, and no one seems to notice.

Then there is this:

“A half rape – women always like that. All women.”


I've heard that the author's book The Dinner is controversial but I've not read it. The author is undoubtedly talented, and I did finish this book, but the subject matter, for me, was too awful to enjoy the writing skill. ( )
2 vote TooBusyReading | Jul 12, 2014 |
As soon as I saw that there was a new book out by the author of The Dinner I went out and got it and holy cow did it deliver! If I had thought that The Dinner was a great way to let us inside another person's head and know all they thought, Summer House puts that book to shame. Oh my God. I am not sure I wanna know everything a person thinks! Good and/or bad! This book gives you a raw and brute insight into the main character's mind and all I could think the whole time was that the dude was a douche, lol. When a book gets me feeling so strong about a character I will always love it, that's for sure.
Summer House is wonderfully written and it is like watching a car crash: it ain't gonna be pretty but you know you just won't be able to look away.
Now on to a quick summary: Marc is a general physician who has all sorts of patients. One of them happens to be Ralph Meier, a celebrity actor who ends up inviting Marc, his wife and two daughters to spend their vacation with him and his wife in a rented house by the Mediterranean.
Marc and his family spend several days in that house with a swimming pool until a horrific event takes place. This terrible situation will change all of their lives forever.
I am still trying to come to terms with everything that Marc does and I will keep feeling repulsed by that man for a long time. If I say more I am afraid I will give up valuable story line, so what are you waiting for? Go ahead and read it. It will make you think twice about everything. ( )
  AleAleta | Jul 12, 2014 |
Having read and enjoyed Koch’s The Dinner, I looked forward to reading his next work of fiction. Like The Dinner, it is an unsettling read but one which I found captivating.

The narrator is Dr. Marc Schlosser, a general practitioner. At the beginning, he is called before a Board of Medical Examiners because of a “medical error” which led to the death of Ralph Meier, a famous actor. Via flashbacks, Marc tells about his meeting Ralph who eventually invites Marc and his family to spend their summer vacation with them at a rented Mediterranean summer house. Marc is infatuated with Judith, Ralph’s wife, and manipulates Caroline, his wife, to accept the invitation. Marc and Caroline and their daughters, 13-year-old Julia and 11-year-old Lisa, stay with the Meiers and their other house guests, Stanley and Emmanuelle, until tragedy strikes.

Marc certainly ranks amongst the most vile of literary characters. He is a narcissist: “I’m more charming than most men (76). He is a misogynist who theorizes that only a “dirty, unwashed dick” with “filthy worthless sperm that smells like a half-finished bottle of fermented dairy drink stuck at the back of the fridge” (56) will have sex with an ugly woman and that “A half rape – women always like that. All women” (243). Though a physician, he does not “worry too much about medical standards. About what is, strictly speaking, medically responsible” (49). He gives his patients “the illusion of attention” (1). He has an aversion to the human body, asserting that “Human bodies are horrible enough as it is, even with their clothes on” (3), so he avoids examining patients except as “you might look at a dead animal in the road” (45). He is a hypocrite who hates men thinking of his daughters in a sexual way, but who joins his male companions in more than admiring three young women, “in fact more girls than young women” (221) and agrees to have his daughter audition to be a teen model in the U.S. His friends are Ralph, a boor with rapacious appetites for food and women, and Stanley, a lecherous soft- core film director whose companion is forty years younger.

The novel addresses a number of issues: the objectification and sexualization of girls, the extent to which a person might go to protect him/herself or to exact revenge. Some of the content will certainly induce discomfort. And there are few answers; even the crime that is committed is left unsolved, so readers who dislike indeterminate endings should stay away.

Though the book is disquieting, I found it difficult to put down. The portrayal of Marc’s psyche is a masterpiece, though at the end the reader may want to take a cleansing dive in a swimming pool. ( )
  Schatje | Jul 6, 2014 |
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It all started the previous summer. Marc, his wife, and their two beautiful teenage daughters agreed to spend a week at the Meier's extravagant summer home on the Mediterranean. Joined by Ralph and his striking wife Judith, her mother, and film director Stanley Forbes and his much younger girlfriend, the large group settles in for days of sunshine, wine tasting, and trips to the beach. But when a violent incident disrupts the idyll, darker motivations are revealed, and suddenly no one can be trusted. As the ultimate holiday soon turns into a nightmare, the circumstances surrounding Ralph's later death begin to reveal the disturbing reality behind that summer's tragedy.… (more)

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