Monday, February 25, 2013

Ten White Geese; Gerbrand Bakker

Title: Ten White Geese
Author: Gerbrand Bakker
Publication Year: 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Edition: eGalley

Source: NetGalley

Setting: Wales
Date Completed: February - 2013
Rating: 3.5/5 
Recommend: possibly

In this quiet and mysterious story, a woman from Amsterdam arrives in Wales where she rents a remote farm cottage in the countryside.  There she seeks solitude and hopes to find the privacy she's been searching for.  Although she claims to be an Emily Dickinson scholar who has arrived to do research for her dissertation, before long it is obvious that she is running away from someone or something.  
As she is settling in, Dickinson poetry and Dickinson photos in her possession, she notices "ten white geese" out in the field nearby; she is drawn to them.  Each day when she looks for them,  one, then two, then three, etc. have seemed to have disappeared. She believes a badger is the reason, because she reports that she was bitten in the foot by one right after she arrived.  The village people who hear this do not believe her story.
To complicate the turmoil Emilie is obviously experiencing, one day a young man who has been hiking across the land shows up on the property with an injured foot, she tells him to stay the night . The young man named Bradwen having dropped out of the university, stays on longer than expected, and his presence stirs feelings in Emilie and more of her past is revealed. The reader begins to learn what happened to this woman and why she has left her husband and parents without a word.
Translated from the Dutch and less than 250 pages, I had some trouble with this novel.   I loved how descriptive the writing was, the beautiful country setting, the sights and smells that heightened one's senses were wonderful, but even with that, in the end I felt like I might have missed something.  I had to ask myself, was this intentional or was it the way the writing translated?  Whatever the reason, that did affect my overall enjoyment a bit.  I do think this book would make for some good discussion with book groups.  I'd be curious to see what other readers think of this book.


  1. Yeah, sometimes things get lost in the translation. I've felt the same way after reading translated works before.

  2. Interesting review and, yes, I think things frequently get lost in translation. The opening you posted recently definitely intrigued me, but I'll probably pass on this for now.

  3. This one sounds kind of interesting. I'm making a note of it - sometimes I get into a mood where nothing appeals to me and I need something different. This might fit that bill.

  4. It sounds rather interesting, but it also sounds like the translation wasn't rich and exact, which might frustrate me. I need to see if I can find this one on audio. I'd love to see what I think of it.

  5. It sounds mysterious, so I'm tempted by it (and its length, LOL!)


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