Herman Koch’s new novel, SUMMER HOUSE WITH SWIMMING POOL is the follow-up to his 2012 novel, THE DINNER and it’s also receiving positive response from critics and readers alike. SUMMER HOUSE WITH SWIMMING POOL is about a medical procedure that goes wrong, leaving a famous actor dead.
Dr. Marc Schlosser is a Dutch general practitioner who treats upper-middle class patients mostly in the arts, but finds the human body repulsive. He allows his patients twenty-minute appointments and often finds himself daydreaming and doodling, during these consultations.
Marc, his wife, Caroline and two daughters are invited to join his patient Ralph Meier, a famous actor, his wife, Judith and two sons, Alex and Thomas, who are the same age as the Schlosser’s daughters at their summer home for holiday. Initially, everything is wonderful, swimming and sunbathing by the pool, barbequing and a never-ending flow of alcohol. But then, Ralph starts strutting around naked in front of everyone, including Marc’s daughters, eleven-year old, Lisa and thirteen year old, Julia. Both he and his wife find it inappropriate, but say nothing.
Ralph is a huge personality, larger than life in behavior, quite dramatic, with an obscene appetite and obnoxiously vulgar. In addition to the Schlosser family, there’re other houseguests; an older American Hollywood director with a girlfriend young enough to be friends with Marc’s oldest daughter. Everyone in the house is pawns for Ralph to move around and manipulate as he pleases.
The novel is filled with flawed, emotionally complex unlikeable characters. There’s a growing sense of horror underneath as you read and realize the characters are barely in control. They seem to have lost restraint of their moral compass.’
This is one of the first books I’ve ever read where I disliked all of the characters, not one had a redeemable characteristic. But SUMMER HOUSE WITH SWIMMING POOL is so well written and the story so compelling, once I started, I couldn’t turn away. I’m still left with a kind of puzzlement though, why I kept reading through the end.
Thank you to Shelf-Awareness for sending me an Advance Review Copy to read and review.