Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summer House With Swimming Pool; Herman Koch

Hogarth - June 2014

Reader's who experienced Herman Koch's, The Dinner may recall the despicable act of two young men and the disturbing reactions of their parents.  Although a twisted story, it was one I very much enjoyed. 

Summer House With Swimming Pool, is similar in style. Sociopaths and other unlikeable characters lacking in moral fiber, and a story that pulled my in early on with it's unreliable narrator.

Dr. Marc Schlosser is a Dutch physician, married with two young daughters ages 11 and 13. Marc isn't crazy about his job as a general practitioner, yet he brags about giving his patients 20 minutes per visit.  He freely writes prescriptions to satisfy the real, or imagined, aches and pains of his mostly prominent artsy clientele -- actors, artists etc. His mind often drifts while listening to his patients prattling on, all while his mind processes the parts of their body that he considers revolting and the reasons he feels as he does.

One of Marc's patients was an actor by the name of Ralph Meier, and we learn early on that Ralph's widow Judith blames Marc for his death, and that he is being investigated by the medical board. What exactly happened and why isn't revealed until the end of the novel, but gradually as Dr. Marc reflects on the summer he and his family spent with the Meier family: his wife, (2) sons, MIL, and an American film director friend of Ralph Meier) at their summer home on the Mediterranean, the pieces of the puzzle come together, making for one unbelievable story.

I liked this novel, yet at times was appalled by it as well. None of the characters in this novel are likable, there are some disturbing incidents that take place and, the men in this novel are just plain vile.  Some readers may be repulsed by parts of this story, while others, like myself, may be fascinated by how the men in this novel think and act.

While I may not have liked the characters, the author's writing is terrific. I was drawn into the story early on and kept engaged throughout. Read it if you think you have the stomach for it. If you do decide to read it, I think you'll probably will think twice about who you choose to spend your family vacations with in the future.

4.5/5 stars
(eGalley)

23 comments:

  1. I'm not sure if this is for me but I love what you had to say about it and then the great rating :-)

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  2. Wonderful review, Diane! This sounds like a terrific summer read. Best read by the pool....

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  3. I picked this one up on audio at the expo this year! Excited to listen to it!

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  4. Sounds like quite a book! You've got me curious, Diane.

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  5. I thought The Dinner was great and know I'll be reading this one before too long. Great review, Diane!

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  6. A good unreliable narrator is hard to beat!

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  7. Your review has piqued my interest! I really want to know what's going on with these characters.

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  8. I love a good dark tale. I've not heard of The Dinner either, so I'm putting both on the list!

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  9. I have this one on my list, even though I haven't yet read The Dinner. I suspect that I will enjoy the twisted characters, even if I hate them! LOL

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  10. I preferred The Dinner, but thought the writing was brilliant, as in the other book. Good to see you thought the same.

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  11. I really admire Herman Koch's writing although I can't truly say I enjoyed the books which are at times difficult to read. One thing Koch doesn't fail to do is make you think. Great review!

    http://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com

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  12. I didn't know Herman Koch had a new book out! Thanks for reviewing it. I will have to get hold of this book.

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  13. I'm not sure if I would have the stomach for this one. Great review Diane!

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  14. I have this one waiting for me on my Kindle - I've never read Koch before, but am looking forward to giving him a try. And I appreciate the warning about the unlikable characters…I like being prepared for something like that going in.

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  15. Thanks for your review. I'm not sure I am in a place right not to read about despicable characters and vile men. But at least I know that going in. Appreciate the warning, and 4.5 stars is a pretty darn good rating! So maybe???

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  16. That sounds good in a bad sort of way!

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  17. I've been on the fence about this one, but you just tipped me into requesting it from my library. Sounds like it's worth reading, even with evil characters.

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  18. This one seems to be getting the same reactions as The Dinner - seems if you can get over the fact that the characters are not sympathetic and some of the actions, you'll love the writing.

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  19. I still need to read The Dinner. It looks like he successfully made unlikeable characters very readable again.

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  20. I've heard such great things about Koch's writing so I added this to my wishlist last week. I don't have an issue with detestable characters if the story is compelling and well written. Great review.

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  21. Oh no. I am a little worried now. The Dinner was a DNF for me but I wanted to give him another chance.

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  22. I can't decide if I want to read this. I read The Dinner because I felt like I had to. I think I will wait and see if this ends up on best lists for this year.

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  23. I'm going to read it but now I consider myself warned!

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