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The BookBrowse Review

Published May 21, 2014

ISSN: 1930-0018

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In This Edition of
The BookBrowse Review

Highlighting indicates debut books

Editor's Introduction
Reviews
Hardcovers Paperbacks
First Impressions
Recommended for Book Clubs
Publishing Soon

Novels


Historical Fiction


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Biographies/Memoirs


History, Science & Current Affairs


Young Adults

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Romance


Extras
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  • Quote:
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Book Jacket

Summer House with Swimming Pool
by Herman Koch
3 Jun 2014
304 pages
Publisher: Hogarth Books
ISBN-13: 9780804138819
Critics:
Readers:
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The blistering, compulsively readable new novel from Herman Koch, author of the instant New York Times bestseller The Dinner.

When a medical procedure goes horribly wrong and famous actor Ralph Meier winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser needs to come up with some answers. After all, reputation is everything in this business. Personally, he's not exactly upset that Ralph is gone, but as a high profile doctor to the stars, Marc can't hide from the truth forever.

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.

Featuring the razor-sharp humor and acute psychological insight that made The Dinner an international phenomenon, Summer House with Swimming Pool is a controversial, thought-provoking novel that showcases Herman Koch at his finest.

"Starred Review. Though it's a bit too long, make no mistake: very few real-world events will distract readers from finishing this addictive book in one or two sittings." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. As in The Dinner, Koch continues to illuminate ways in which our Freudian unconscious takes dreadful revenge on the ego, often disproportionate to the perceived slight." - Library Journal

"It's a slow burn, but Koch's deft and nuanced exploration of gender, guilt, and vengeance make his second novel to be translated into English an absorbing read." - Booklist

"Disquieting...A sly psychological thriller lurks within this pitch-dark comedy of manners." - Kirkus

Write your own review

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Cloggie Downunder
A brilliant novel
Summer House With Swimming Pool is the seventh novel by Dutch actor, television and radio producer, newspaper columnist and author, Herman Koch, and the second book to be translated into English. Dr Marc Schlosser, a General Physician whose patients appreciate the time he takes with them, is summoned to appear before the Board of Medical Examiners. One of his patients, celebrity actor Ralph Meier, has died, and a question hangs over his medical management. Some eighteen months earlier, Marc, his wife and two daughters spent a week at a Mediterranean summer house with Meier’s family, an ageing Hollywood director and his very young girlfriend. Most of Marc’s narration is spent recounting, in hindsight, the events of that vacation that led to a shocking climax, and its aftermath. Koch so cleverly crafts his story that the reader is left wondering exactly what crimes or misdeeds were committed during that summer interlude, and by whom. While Marc’s narration is entirely reliable, it is, of course, wholly biased, and it is equally apparent that others who contribute to the account of events have their own agendas. Many of the characters are easy to find loathsome or obnoxious and none is quite what they first seem to be. Marc demonstrates an ability to shift priorities and abandon responsibility with breath-taking ease, as well as a cold, calculating nature, which makes his actions seem thoroughly plausible. Koch’s novel touches on the Dutch medical system, paedophiles, what is appropriate treatment of sexual deviants, justice, revenge and taking the law into one’s own hands. It is a given that we cannot know mere acquaintances to any significant degree, but Koch’s novel will have the reader questioning just how well we can truly know those really close to us: our children, our parents and our spouses. Koch gives the reader some marvellously descriptive prose (his depiction of abscesses and tumours is particularly imaginative) and he inserts some moments of sharp (and occasionally quite dark) humour to relieve the building tension. Female readers will be grateful that not all men are this shallow and most readers will hope their doctor is not this cynical. This thought-provoking, powerful, and compelling read is flawlessly translated by Sam Garrett. A brilliant novel that stays with the reader long after the last page is turned.

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by B
Summer house with Swimming Pool
I made it through 100 pages of this book before deciding I didn’t like any of the characters and I truly didn’t care if Ralph was murdered or it was just a horrible mistake. Marc, the doctor who made the mistake or committed the murder, was an especially unlikeable person. He was selfish and narcissistic to the extreme. Ralph wasn’t much better. They were both lecherous towards the other’s wife within minutes of meeting (apparently not an unusual happening).

There was supposed to be humor somewhere in this book, but it hadn’t occurred by page 100 (out of 385). Marc didn’t like camping and I didn’t like Marc so I guess we are even. Skip this one.

Herman Koch is the author of seven novels and three collections of short stories. The Dinner, his sixth novel, has been published in 25 countries, and was the winner of the Publieksprijs Prize in 2009. He currently lives in Amsterdam.

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