Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review: Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

For those of you living under a rock, Herman Koch is the Dutch author who introduced us to a slew of vile characters in the hugely successful The Dinner novel. True to form,Summer House with Swimming Pool is another plethora of characters readers love to hate. After spending a few days reading Dr Marc Schlosser's narrative of the events that eventually summons a medical review board due to a "medical error", I'm actually happy to rid my life of his contempt and bitter disposition.

Dr Marc Schlosser is the epitome of an arrogant general doctor who does the absolute minimum. He's seen it all and is not impressed with the ailings of his patients. His practice generally thrives on word-of-mouth and he's quite fine with that. When one of his semi-famous patients Ralph Meier dies of his possible negligence or malpractice, it sets the stage for the whole novel. Because of the blurbs, most prospective readers will already be aware that something happens to his daughter Julia that demands Meier's existence be terminated. 

It's no shocker here that Koch paints a vivid picture through the eyes of a person that is almost as vile as his rival. I don't think that I have to like the character in order to enjoy the story he has to tell. The writing is what gets me with Summer House with Swimming Pool when all else fails. There are little nuggets of information provided that keeps readers interested. I just had to keep reading no matter how much I hated Schlosser, Meier, or even the supporting cast. 

Overall, I did enjoy this novel. It's grossly descriptive in parts, structurally sound, and even captivating at moments. What keeps me on the fence and unable to award it 4 stars is that I really felt at no moment did the main character grow. None of the characters made any effort to be anything other than self-absorbed, shallow individuals who never see the error in their ways. I guess that's the point. We are who we are, for better or worse.

Summer House with Swimming Pool is one of those novels readers will either love or hate. I applaud those who can made a decision. I am comfortably on the fence but do suggest that those who loved The Dinner give this one a go as well. I look forward to the next group of vile characters Herman Koch can muster up for his next novel.  ***

Copy provided by Random House via Netgalley

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