SUMMER HOUSE WITH SWIMMING POOL by Herman KochSummer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch
Published by Crown Publishing Group on June 3rd 2014
Pages: 400
Genres: Family Life, Fiction, Literary, Psychological
Hardcover provided by Blogging for Books


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.

Reading time 4 mins

My Review

Summer House with Swimming Pool is a book with much ado about nothing. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration. It just felt like that. Fifty two chapters, and it took thirty chapters for anything interesting to happen. I had to force myself to read this book. I am happy to report the last twenty chapters were pretty good.  It just took too long for my taste.

Some people appreciate a ton a back-story and leading up to a good story. I would rather have a bit of action and discover the characters as we go. I really disliked the lead characters in this book. Marc is a doctor and he has a bad attitude about his job. Doctor to patient takes such trust. You literally put your life in the doctor’s hands. What if the doctor was a cynical ass who down played everything in his head? Marc made me feel sad about the whole profession. This story is about a summer vacation Marc takes with his family. Marc has a wife and 2 teenage girls. Marc’s real objective for this vacation is to get close to Ralph’s wife. Ralph is his friend and the whole situation was really sad. The good news is that this is not another love story. Marc and Ralph’s wife Cynthia end up hating each other.

Marc picks a location close to where his buddy and his family are vacationing. Despite the fact that Marc’s own wife, Judith,  thinks Ralph is a creeper, he drags his family into a situation where they will run into each other. It is so hard to get into a story when you dislike the lead character. I forced myself to finish this story because something about the synopsis told me to keep going. This story was set in the Netherlands, which means it might not have even been in english in it’s first printing. That would explain a lot since it felt like something was lost in translation.

You get a stain on your pants. Your favorite pair of pants. You wash them ten times in a row at 160 degrees. You scrub and scour and rub. You bring in the heavy artillary. Bleaches. Abrasive cleaners. But the spot doesn’t go away. If you scrub and scour too long, it will only be replaced by something else. By a stretch of fabric that is thinner and paler. the paler cloth is the memory. The memory of the spot. Now there are two things you can do. You can throw the pants away, or you can walk around for the rest of your life with the memory of the stain. It also reminds you of when the pants were still clean.

If you run things back far enough, the clean pants finally show up. By then, you know that they’re not going to stay clean. I know that I will keep running things back for the rest of my life. Was this where it was? I’ll ask myself again and again. Or was it further back?. . . There? I hit pause.

Here it is clean.

And here, not anymore.

That little gem happened around chapter twenty five. Things were just starting to get interesting. I was convinced by this time that we were leading up to something. I didn’t like how Marc kept retreating back into his thoughts. Honestly some scenes didn’t get finished due to a flashback. There were quite a few flashbacks that didn’t need to happen. This story didn’t need all of that. Something happens to Marc’s daughter and his reaction is so crazy. I know there is a huge disconnect between me and these people. It could be cultural, professional, financial, or just a matter of gender. I found these people and their reactions to what happened completely off. Not normal. Maybe everyone reacts in their own way when something this big occurs, but I kind of think there is a standard reaction. This book didn’t cover it. Maybe it was because it was written by a man and had a male lead that I had a hard time getting into this book? I had such a hard time even liking the characters enough to care what kind of drama the got into. When the thing finally did happen, it was treated so oddly. I just didn’t really enjoy this story.

About the Author

Herman Koch (1953) is known as a television producer and a writer. The book ‘Het diner’, published in 2009, was his breakthrough in the Netherlands. It was published in 17 countries. It was partly based on a true story involving a homeless woman named, María del Rosario Endrinal Petit, in Barcelona (Spain), in December 2005.
Koch was born in Arnhem, and later moved to Amsterdam. He studied Russian for some months, and lived in Finland for a while. Nowadays he is married to the Spanish Amalia, and has a son, Pablo (1994).

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