Review, Discussion, GIVEAWAY: Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

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[The giveaway timeframe has ended. Thanks for the great comments!]

Calliope: This book definitely intrigued me. My eyes were gaping wide at every turn. I was astounded by everyone and everything. Would a doctor really DO that? Do doctors really THINK like that? Do wives actually turn such a blind eye to their husbands’ criminal behaviors? Is the human body truly so disgusting?
Pegasus: Whilst the rather extreme views that some characters possessed did interest me, I did feel as though some were completely unrealistic. I would give some examples, but wouldn’t want to spoil anything.

Calliope: I kinda couldn’t get over how graphic Marc was about the human body. Yes he’s a doctor, and I understand he would see things objectively, but he seemed so negative about it. The people I know in the healthcare field have an APPRECIATION for the human body, not contempt. So WHY? Why was he a doctor and why was he so grossed out by stuff?

Pegasus: I’m not easily grossed out by descriptions. Not at all. However, I felt physically sick with some of his musings regarding the human body. I kind of understand why the author chose to portray Marc like this, and to be fair it was very effective if it made me react in such a way.

Calliope: Not only was Marc a little odd, I couldn’t for the life of me understand the family dynamics. Any father I know would choke the life out of any grown man who laid a hand on his daughter. This guy was like Oh hey, it will be fine, let it be, let it be. And the mother went along with it! Maybe this happens when people are traumatized? I don’t know. It made me mad.
Pegasus: that whole scenario made me so mad! Unrealistic, and frustrating!

Calliope: The writing was great and the characters were interesting, but I thought the plot would be more thrilling. Instead it seemed to plod along, with complaints about bodies, complaints about other people, narration of the comings and goings of the children, and the acquiescence of the wives. The best I could come up with is that it’s not supposed to be exciting, rather maybe just social commentary? If so, everything makes a whole lot more sense! I was getting a little annoyed at how disrespectful everyone was. But then again, I’m used to reading Happily Ever After Chick Lit Romantic Comedies that make me laugh, then cry, then laugh, then cry happy tears. 🙂

Pegasus: I really have mixed feelings. On one hand, yes, I did think the writing was at least original, but on the other hand, I felt it did not flow properly. Maybe I just wasn’t In the right mood? Who knows. Calliope is right insofar as saying that this is social commentary. Society isn’t perfect I suppose, and there will always be factions of it with wich we don’t agree.

Calliope: By the end of the book I realized Summer House With Swimming Pool is more literary fiction. For one thing, the whole eye infection scene begged to be torn apart and analyzed. The enormity of that eye infection, the perspective of the doctor, the healing of the eye…. But I won’t analyze it here and ruin it for everyone else. For another thing, the tension between Ralph and Marc wasn’t anything I’ve seen in real life. It seemed like a metaphor. Ralph and Marc each represented something much more than themselves. And the treatment of women in Summer House With Swimming Pool was so egregious that, were I still an undergrad, I could write my senior thesis based on it. As a woman, I wanted to shake these guys out of their stupid stupors. *eyeroll* I’m getting fired up thinking about it.

Pegasus: This book was definitely more than what it portrays on the surface. A part of me felt like that it was trying to be too clever in some parts, and, in my opinion, that added to the feeling of it being disjointed. Also, because we’re not reading it in the original Dutch, translation may have been a contributing factor.

Calliope: In any case, this book spilled open some topics that are probably uncomfortable for most people to deal with: the human body, cancer, sexual immorality, the power of patriarchy… Heavy stuff told in a way that turned my stomach, made me question people’s motives, and made me wish that our world was nicer than it is.
Pegasus: I’m glad that I read this book, and it did definitely have it’s merits. Not too sure if I’ll be reading Koch’s next book, but we’ll see. However, opinions are like… Well, you know the phrase, so give this a read and hopefully you will enjoy it!

Remember, comment below for a chance to win a copy of Summer House With Swimming Pool!

-Pegasus and Calliope

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2 thoughts on “Review, Discussion, GIVEAWAY: Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

  1. As someone who has also read this book (so I don’t need to win it), I can applaud you for a great review. I gave this only one star.

    While the first 220 or so pages of this book do have some content that applies to what is to come later, it bored me terribly. After about 220 pages, while I wasn’t bored to tears, I still wasn’t pleased.

    Marc isn’t just unlikeable; he’s detestable. But his character isn’t what makes me dislike this book. It is the author’s fault. He didn’t stick with the story. Most of the book involves having Marc think about other things. Ho hum.

    Koch could have at least cleared things up in the second half. Instead,I’m more confused. Why did he bring up so many different points but go nowhere with most of them? What was the point? And maybe most connfusing: the end.

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