Swimming in Thoughts in This Summer House

Original publish date: 2 June 2014

A doctor with a patient with whom his family spent summer holiday with, desired or not. This patient’s death prompts the doctor to reevaluate his and his family’s lives.

I received this advanced reading copy of Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch through Goodreads, and, man, am I glad that I did. Thank goodness for an English translation from the original Dutch so we can enjoy and learn from the story as well.

I was captivated by the first chapter. There is a directness to the writing and such subtle humor. It drew me in. There was a reality and honesty to the writing that was a refreshing change from the typical politically correct, or at least cautious, American writing that I generally read. I’m reminded of an indie film as a way to describe the feel of the book. The story is told in vignettes of flashbacks from our unreliable narrator, Dr. Marc Schlosser, after beginning in media res. I’m wowed with how the story is pieced together from smaller bits to create a cohesive whole.

There were quite a few heavy topics tackled within the book, including euthanasia and rape. Basically, all the more negative aspects of the human condition are explored, even if in a passing thought. The writing and concepts brought up make you think, and the doctor’s various ponderings offer one direction of thought, and perhaps provoke your thoughts further. A sign of a good book is one where you’re left still thinking about it long after you’ve finished reading it. It’s been a few days since I devoured this book, and I’m still thinking about it.

As an ARC, I understand that there are bound to be a few grammatical errors, which, for the most part, were duplicated punctuation or words and it wasn’t too distracting.

Overall, I’d give this 5 out of 5 stars. 

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