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Zomerhuis met zwembad by Herman Koch

Zomerhuis met zwembad (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Herman Koch

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7698812,029 (3.44)40
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)


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English (68)  Dutch (17)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (90)
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
Having greatly admired Dutch writer Herman Koch’s European best-seller The Dinner, I was delighted to find this more recent novel. The two have much in common: a first-person narration by men who turn out to be not entirely reliable, an unfolding tragic event whose full scope is only gradually revealed; and the grounding of the story in the hyper-intense relationships of a nuclear family, where every secret evokes the possibility of catastrophe.
The narrator of The Dinner was quite likeable, at least at first, his chameleon colors revealed only bit by bit. In this novel, Koch’s narrator, Dutch general physician Marc Schlosser, shows his disgruntlement cards early on. Married with two preteen/early teen daughters, his feelings about women are entirely retrograde: “I looked at her (a just-met woman) the way every man looks at a woman who enters his field of vision for the first time. Could you do it with her? I asked myself, looking her deep in the eyes. Yes, was the response.” Or, “Any father would rather have a son than a daughter.” Or, “I laughed . . . the sooner you laugh during a conversation with a woman, the better. They’re not used to it, women, to making people laugh. They think they’re not funny. They’re right, usually.”
Ouch, ouch, and ouch.
Yet, Marc is not more charitable toward the men he encounters, truth be told, or toward any of his patients, whom he even fantasizes about killing. Why Marc is so dissatisfied is never quite clear. Is he just a curmudgeon in the wrong profession? Did he take too seriously the lectures of his amoral medical school professor?
A luckless new patient is the famous actor Ralph Meier, a past-middle-age womanizer attracted to Marc’s wife Caroline. Marc, in turn, is attracted to Ralph’s younger wife Judith, and his attention seems to be reciprocated. Entangling the families further are Marc’s daughters’ growing relationships with Ralph’s slightly older sons.
At a minor early summer social event the four members of each family come together in a powerful way, which leads to an invitation to visit the Meier family at their summer house in some unspecified seaside destination. Marc, his eye on Judith, shamelessly manipulates his family’s vacation itinerary, while denying his intent, to ensure the encounter happens. The conflicting personalities, the muddled motives of Marc, and the ingestion of too much alcohol create a decidedly unhappy holiday from which hardly anyone will emerge unscathed.
The novel contains a couple of critically weak plot points (which I won’t divulge) that mar its believability. I’m not the only reader to find that Summer House suffers by comparison with the diabolical genius of The Dinner, with New York Times reviewer Lionel Shriver calling this follow-up “inexplicably careless.” Read The Dinner instead. ( )
  Vicki_Weisfeld | Nov 5, 2015 |
The blurb of this book made it sound like it would be a psychological thriller. In reality, it was very slow-paced, which lessened the intensity of the story, rather than build suspense. Something dark and violent was supposed to happen at the summer home where two families had come together, but that incident was a minor, forgettable portion of the book, and was never really resolved. That being said, I did read the whole thing and though it was slow, I stayed interested in it. It just wasn't what I expected based on the summary. ( )
  howifeelaboutbooks | Nov 4, 2015 |
Marc Schlosser is the doctor to the stars. Famous authors, comedians, and actors alike make him the physician of choice, mainly because of his less-than-personal relationship with patients, and his liberal attitude towards the prescription pad. However, when a famous actor Ralph Meier dies after having a routine procedure done in his office, Marc must come up with answers as to why. However, this is not a simple accident. The answer lies with events that started the previous summer while Schlosser and his family and Meier’s family were on vacation when a horrendous incident occurred.

Similar to Herman Koch’s previous novel, The Dinner, the writing in Summer House with Swimming Pool is very detailed, and of course deals with unspeakable actions. The main character, Marc, while certainly very unlikeable, is particularly well drawn and we get a very healthy glimpse into his sociopathic mind. As the story progresses, little by little we see just how unlikeable and unreliable he can be, right up the twist (and twisted!) ending. Full of mystery and suspense, this Summer House with Swimming Pool is a must read. However, if you were too disturbed by The Dinner, you may want to steer clear of this one.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher Crown Publishing through the Blogging for Books program. ( )
  sklee | Aug 3, 2015 |
review via blog: http://tewigleben.blogspot.com/2015/07/summer-house-with-swimming-pool-by.html

Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch — A Review
I love hating the characters I read about. Or just being unsure about their motives, their reliability, their credibility. Summer House With Swimming Pool , just like The Dinner, grabbed me this way. At turns cynical, grotesque, treacherous and wryly humorous, it had all the components of complete fucked-up-ed-ness I adore.

Dr. Marc Schlosser hates his job. Well, hates the filth and wretchedness that is the human condition, and Koch describes it all in loving detail. If you can't stand descriptions of your inevitable doom, you may not want to read this one. We find out right away that a patient of his, actor Ralph Meier, is dead, and it's possibly, probably, (okay definitely) his fault. But why?

Here's where the summer house comes into play. A vacation with ulterior motives, lust and selfishness, then unexpected tragedy, plays a pivotal role in the Doc's decision to off Mr. Meier.

I won't give everything away, because the structure of the book is so you want to keep turning the page. The filthiness of your psyche, your strange inner thoughts and sick desires makes everyone a bit repugnant in this novel, even the children to some extent.

But I like the honesty with a touch of the dramatic. It kept me engaged, and made me stop and think once I had reached the end. If you have ever watched Funny Games, enjoyed his previous work, or considered the darker parts of your soul and what you would do for family if faced with a violent and chaotic situation, read this.

Judge the characters harshly in this book if you must, but judge yourself as well.

—visit the authors' webpage (use Google translate, folks!) http://www.hermankoch.nl/

*(I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.) ( )
  tewigleben | Jul 24, 2015 |
I couldn't decide if I even wanted to finish this book but ultimately did, hence the 3 stars. Story line disturbing...rape of a teen. I did find that I really didn't like the characters nor did I care about them. And the ending...really? Not sure if I'll read another by the author, if I do, it will take a bit of time. ( )
  NHNick | Jul 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
Koch uses language like a stethoscope, so that we can hear the beating hearts of his characters and their visceral feelings of envy, love, fear and hatred. It is the sense of panic that Koch excels at evoking
added by Nickelini | editThe Guardian, Anita Sethi (Jul 27, 2014)
Failing the plausibility test is a black eye in commercial fiction. So is letting the pace become so slack that we don’t care who will eventually be revealed as the rapist. A good psychological thriller ought to end with a crisp, clean twist. This ending is mashed potatoes. Herman Koch does have a knack for generating narrative thrust, which “Summer House With Swimming Pool” manifests for its first two-thirds. Nevertheless, given how well his previous novel performed, this follow-up is inexplicably careless.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, Lionel Shriver (Jul 11, 2014)
Herman Koch's second book to be translated from his native Dutch has all the distinctive features of his first, the international bestseller, The Dinner. There is a narrator who whispers warped thoughts into your ear. There is the black humour and dangerous fantasy that might erupt into the real world at any moment. And there is the hissing satire that mocks bourgeois values and threatens a sudden, alarming loss of etiquette.
Warning: Do not read this book within three weeks of any medical appointment.

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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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