When a medical procedure goes horribly wrong and famous actor Ralph Meier winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser needs to come up with some answers. Read more...
When a medical procedure goes horribly wrong and famous actor Ralph Meier winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser needs to come up with some answers. After all, reputation is everything in this business. Personally, he s not exactly upset that Ralph is gone, but as a high profile doctor to the stars, Marc can't hide from the truth forever.
It all started the previous summer. Marc, his wife, and their two beautiful teenage daughters agreed to spend a week at the Meier s extravagant summer home on the Mediterranean. Joined by Ralph and his striking wife Judith, her mother, and film director Stanley Forbes and his much younger girlfriend, the large group settles in for days of sunshine, wine tasting, and trips to the beach. But when a violent incident disrupts the idyll, darker motivations are revealed, and suddenly no one can be trusted. As the ultimate holiday soon turns into a nightmare, the circumstances surrounding Ralph s later death begin to reveal the disturbing reality behind that summer s tragedy.
Featuring the razor-sharp humor and acute psychological insight that made "The Dinner" an international phenomenon, "Summer House with Swimming Pool" is a controversial, thought-provoking novel that showcases Herman Koch at his finest."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-03-31
- Reviewer: Staff
In Koch’s equally devious follow-up to The Dinner, civilization is once again only a thin cover-up for man’s baser instincts. This time out, we meet Dr. Marc Schlosser, whose practice includes a new patient, veteran TV and stage actor Ralph Meier. At a party, Marc doesn’t like the way Ralph looks at his wife, Caroline. So when Marc and his family are invited to spend part of their vacation at Ralph’s summer house (with swimming pool), Marc reluctantly accepts. There, his family mingles with Ralph’s family, as well as houseguests Stanley Forbes, a film director, and his much younger girlfriend. The air is rife with sexual tension as Ralph showers too much attention on Marc’s underage daughter, Julia, and Marc toys with having an affair with Ralph’s wife, Judith. Then tragedy strikes. One year later, through a confluence of events, Ralph is dead and Marc is implicated. Over the course of the novel, the truth about what really happened that summer is revealed. Although Koch, by his own admission, is not a mystery writer, he once again succeeds on that count without ever stinting on literary quality. And though it’s a bit too long, make no mistake: very few real-world events will distract readers from finishing this addictive book in one or two sittings. (June)
Summer tragedy with the good doctor
The fun of reading Dutch author Herman Koch is his constant questioning of normal human behavior. His commentary on etiquette and the trappings of wealth is hilariously biting; it’s like standing next to the cynical party guest who keeps you laughing all night by mocking the pretentious host. And just like that funny guy at the party, Koch can go from companionable to creepy before you realize what changed. He did it in his stateside breakout book, The Dinner, when a simple meal turned twisted, and Summer House with Swimming Pool is no different: We watch as a happy family vacation grows complicated and dark.
This time, our misanthropic narrator is Marc, doctor to the stars. His patients are artists, writers and actors who are co-dependent more than anything else, relying on Marc’s reassurance and attention more than his medical opinion. He spends his time counting the minutes until his patients leave and yawning his way through their performances. He’s not disillusioned by wealth so much as utterly bored by it.
Or is he? One of Marc’s patients is Ralph Meier, a big, hulking actor who seems to get whatever he wants. The good doctor is both repulsed and intrigued by Ralph, and he’s obsessed with learning what makes him tick—to the point of borderline stalking the actor’s family on their summer vacation.
Koch has assembled all the elements for a good summer thriller, but his style is a bit unsettling. Just when you begin to connect with the characters, he zooms wide and you lose focus. It’s fun to peek inside the windows of the rich, but it’s frustrating to be kept outside, and these characters never really let you in. They’re always hiding something, and just like in The Dinner, the real mystery here is the human condition. Summer House with Swimming Pool describes a world where hopelessly damaged people live perfect-looking lives, where all is not as it seems, and where the shadows overtake the sunshine. One thing’s for sure—Koch is not afraid to take us to the dark side.