NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

3.5 out of 5 stars - I liked this novel despite the fact that I totally detested nearly all of the characters and the underlying story. I definitely would not go on vacation with these folks!

Why did I like it? Because of the author's writing style and the stream of consciousness narration by the mostly despicable protagonist -- even though he is definitely no kind of hero!

Marc is a family doctor, and despite his hugely inflated sense of himself, he's not the kind of physician that you would want to see. He is judgmental and seems to despise his job and most of the patients who come to him with their ailments and complaints. Dismissing them with paternalistic platitudes and a standard prescription for this or that medication, he is almost narcissistic in the role he plays as the gatekeeper to a specialist or a higher standard of care. He is mechanical and without much empathy and he accepts their thanks and social invitations with poor grace. Many of his patients are in the "art" world, and one in particular, Ralph Meier, is a famous stage actor whom Marc eventually befriends well enough to get an invitation for their families to meet up at the Meier's summer house. The story of what happens on that vacation leads to far-reaching consequences for them all, and for one, it proves life threatening.

The story has a mystery, but more than that, it begs the questions and discussion about family, fidelity, morals, parenthood, and "bad" character. I found it to be a fast and enjoyable read, an interesting point of view, and certainly a train wreck of political incorrectness at times because of the narrator. Just be glad this is not your family doctor! 

I have not read his other book, THE DINNER, but I think I need to do that.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for the e-book ARC to review.

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