Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Not quite a case of sophomore slump, more like a case of going from A (The Dinner, which I've successfully convinced several book clubs to read/discuss) to an A- (this book).
Once again we have an outrageous act, only in this instance it's not quite clear until late in the book exactly what the act was - from the start we know that Dr. Marc Schlosser has been, in some way, negligent in his treatment of Ralph Meier, a famous actor. And for some reason, Ralph's wife, Judith is more than upset, she's spit-in-the-face-at-the-funeral, pay-an-angry-office-visit upset. As with The Dinner, the why of all of this unfolds slowly throughout the book. There's a twist at the end, one that surprised me (as you know, never a bad thing in a book!) and surprises the good doctor as he realizes his assumptions have all been wrong.
As with the earlier book, none of the characters are particularly likeable. Marc's attitudes towards his patients and family are a little difficult to deal with at times, but he's able to articulate those attitudes in ways that make them almost understandable. With the exception of Julia, his elder daughter, post-rape, I found it hard to sympathize or enjoy any of the people we meet. We only have Marc's POV here, which also colors our opinions of the others. Having said that, they all felt as though they were drawn from real life, and that the author's other job is as a television producer probably helped with that. Unlike other books written by tv or movie writers/producers, this doesn't seem to have been written with eventual filming in mind: there's too much going on that's inside the characters that just won't translate well.
Can't wait to see what Koch comes up with next.
ARC provided by publisher.