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

20140601-190211-68531752.jpg Want to win a copy of this book? Comment on this post on Facebook or twitter or on this blog (below). We will randomly choose a winner and mail you off a copy of this compelling read!

[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


Guest Joint Review: Come As You Are by Theresa Weir

18491762 My awesome book friend, Vi, and I wanted to do a joint review of this book when we both got approved and we had some differing opinions.

Molly Young’s father has just died at the opening of this book. She’s not dealing well with it at ALL. He was a very well respected professor at the local college, while she personally despised him. Molly gets drunk and meets Ian who takes care of her that night. When she meets him the next day at the reading of her father’s will she is thrown for an even bigger loop.

Clio: At the beginning of the novel I was a fan of the premise and how the couple meets. I always like a hero or heroine who is falling apart for some reason and Molly definitely was. I liked how Ian took care of her even while he drank too but nowhere near as much as she did. I thought the idea of Ian being a good guy right from the beginning and not taking advantage of Molly at all while they were drunk was sweet even while she was doing everything to push him. The banter while drunk also made me laugh the whole time.

Vi: I liked the initial banter between Molly and Ian at the bar. It was cute. But the interaction in the hotel room was awkward. Molly was drunk. She wanted to have sex with Ian to forget. Ian doesn’t want to have sex. She gets mad then passes out before she can leave.

Clio: I thought Molly came off right away as a hurt girl who was trying to push people away and take care of herself. She seemed dark and angsty but not extensively so.

Vi: I was really worried for Molly when she said she had attempted to commit suicide in the past. As she was crossing the Mississippi River, she was contemplating jumping off the bridge into the river. “No, I wouldn’t kill myself today.” “The bridge would always be here. I could always kill myself later.”

Clio: Good point, I take back my not extensively so comment.

Clio: I’m conflicted about this book because I really loved about 75% of it, and the last 25% I was torn between liking and hating at different turns. What I really enjoyed about this book is Molly dealing with her father’s death in a relatively normal way. She was conflicted, she hated him when alive so how is she supposed to feel about him after he’s dead? I’m not a fan of painting someone in a phony way after they die and obviously neither is Molly. I enjoyed Molly’s experiences with college and her not being entirely sure about what the hell she wants to do in life. That was another realistic thing to me.
I also really liked Ian. He was a good guy, wanting to do the right thing but he didn’t come off as weak. Ian was able to go toe to toe with Molly in some arguments and not roll over. He made me laugh with some of his comments and him drunk was cute and funny in a non obnoxious way.

Vi: I liked Ian as well. I just didn’t see the connection between him and Molly. I didn’t feel the chemistry.

Clio: Now for what I did not like. Unfortunately, while I did like the name of the book, I just did not like the Nirvana references throughout the book. A few were fine. The class was extensive, the paper she had to write about the song didn’t even make sense to me.

Vi: I agree. I like Nirvana. I just didn’t get all of the Nirvana references either. The title of this book is a Nirvana. It’s also the song picked to write her paper on. I get that the meaning behind the song was be yourself. But why was it necessary to be included in the book?

Clio: The last 25% or so felt kind of out of left field. Obviously there was something going to be revealed about Molly’s dad but what it turned out to be was rather huge, yet dealt with way to quickly for my taste. If the last 25% of the book turned into the last 50% with this part being more fleshed out I can see where it could have been a 4.5 star book for me.

Vi: For such a short book, there were secrets after secrets. My head was spinning. Because there was so much happening, I felt that the romance was lost amidst all of the revelations. In the end, I wondered if Molly and Ian were really going to make it together. Molly, who’s already feeling suicidal, has even more crap to deal with. I hope she finds herself a good therapist.

Clio: As it is I would recommend it for NA genre lovers like me. Especially at the price it is currently it is worth it! The romance and the relationship between Molly and Ian was great. There is definitely angst but to the same level some of these books have.

Vi: I liked the first chapter. Then it quickly spiraled downhill for me. I like this author. I will not give up on reading her books. But I cannot recommend this book. Here’s hoping her next NA is more enjoyable. In the meantime, I look forward to her next adult book in Cool Cat trilogy, coming in 2014.

Thank you to Vi for doing the joint review!

We both received ARC’s from Netgalley in return for our honest reviews.


Buy it Now Come As You Are