Posts

Almudena Grandes - "Het ijzig hart"

Image
I have just finished reading Almudena Grandes' "El corazón helado" ("Het ijzig hart") in a Dutch translation by Mia Buursma and Ans van Kersbergen. The novel chronicles the lives of two families, a republican and a conservative, from the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 to 2005: their lives, their losses and their victories, the choices they make. It reflects the complexities of a war that split families apart, fathers against sons, brothers against brothers, wives against husbands. At a hefty 854 (!) pages, this is truly an epic novel. I found it a compelling read. However, it was hard to come to grips with the enormous cast of characters. Time and again I had to refer to the genealogical trees helpfully provided in the book. Also, the novel could have been shorter: the interesting narrative is often buried under a mountain of unnecessary detail about the lives of the characters. Still, I enjoyed reading "Het ijzig hart", the love story between

Maggie O'Farrell - "Hamnet"

Image
I have just finished reading Maggie O'Farrell's "Hamnet", which is ostensibly a story about the death of William Shakespeare's only son Hamnet in 1596 at the early age of 11. However, the central protagonist is in fact the boy's mother Agnes, more readily known to us as Anne Hathaway. In 2020 O'Farrell won the Women's Prize for Fiction for "Hamnet". This is a wonderful novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I know everything there is to know about William Shakespeare's life, but the author's take on the death of Hamnet, the boy's relation to his twin sister Judith, and the intense feelings of his mother shed a completely new light on this terrible episode in the lives of William Shakespeare and his family. I know it is fiction, but still ... post 10 Jan 2021

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld - "De avond is ongemak"

Image
I have just finished reading Marieke Lucas Rijneveld's "De avond is ongemak", which tells the story of a family falling apart after the death of a son. In 2020 Rijneveld and her translator Michele Hutchison won the International Booker Prize for the English translation of the book, "The Discomfort of Evening". I enjoyed reading "De avond is ongemak". I first read it in Dutch and then in English, which gave me the chance to savour Michele Hutchison's wonderful translation. Yet, despite, or maybe because of, all the hype surrounding this novel both in the Netherlands and abroad it left me a little underwhelmed. My expectations had probably been too high. post 3 Jan 2021

Robert Harris - "V2"

Image
I have just finished reading "V2" by Robert Harris. He is one of my favourite novelists.  I have read and I own all 14 of his novels. In my opinion "V2" is not his best. That honorific goes to "An Officer and a Spy", which has the Dreyfus affair in France in the late 19th century as its subject. I also liked Harris's Cicero trilogy "Imperium", "Lustrum", and "Dictator". "V2" is a good read though. In the novel the Nazis' V2 rocket programme is seen through the eyes of a conflicted German scientist and a British female air force officer. Part of the action takes place in a wood near Scheveningen in German-occupied Holland. From here the rockets are launched towards London. post 27 Dec 2020