Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer House with Swimming Pool

Summer House with Swimming Pool
Herman Koch

Published June 2014

First Sentence
"I am a doctor."

Publisher's Description:

When a medical mistake goes horribly wrong and Ralph Meier, a famous actor, winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser is forced to conceal the error from his patients and family. After all, reputation is everything in this business. But the weight of carrying such a secret lies heavily on his mind, and he can't keep hiding from the truth…or the Board of Medical Examiners.

The problem is that the real truth is a bit worse than a simple slipup. Marc played a role in Ralph's death, and he's not exactly upset that the man is gone. Still haunted by his eldest daughter's rape during their stay at Ralph's extravagant Mediterranean summerhouse-one they shared with Ralph and his enticing wife, Judith, film director Stanley Forbes and his far younger girlfriend, Emmanuelle, and Judith's mother-Marc has had it on his mind that the perpetrator of the rape could be either Ralph or Stanley. Stanley's guilt seems obvious, bearing in mind his uncomfortable fixation on the prospect of Marc's daughter's fashion career, but Marc's reasons for wanting Ralph dead become increasingly compelling as events unravel. There is damning evidence against Marc, but he isn't alone in his loathing of the star-studded director.

Dear Reader,

I was lucky enough to score both the physical and audio-book (advance readers copy), which was nice. I swapped back in forth between listening and reading which was super easy because the audio-book aligned the tracks with the chapter numbers (I love when they think of those little details). Going into Book Expo America this year, I had only a handful of books I "REALLY" wanted, one of them being Summer House with Swimming Pool. I don't know why, but the premise intrigued me. The book has so many themes that bark up my tree... mostly because it was dark with the comedic edge. I love dark comedies, my favorite.

Doctor Marc Schlosser is a typical medical jerk wad. He thinks he knows everything and that everyone should savour the ground he walks on. He has the normal family, wife and two daughters plus a general medical practice that has them well off. His clients usually consist of the rich and famous and he gets invited to quite a few prestigious soirees. One of his clients, an Actor, Ralph happens to befriend him and then invite him to stay during the summer Holiday when they happen by chance upon one another. This is where the crazy begins. The men in this book made me want to heave, and I mean EVERY time. I guess this is something the Author wanted since the entire story ends up revolving around the revolting decisions some men make.

I have to say, Herman Koch writes exceedingly well. The detail and background that went into the characters is fantastic, although sometimes disturbing... a little too real? The main character, being a doctor who has little morals, we hear some highly disturbing things from his thoughts on certain medical issues. I found myself cringing during those moments but at the same time, I like when writers do this... it makes things real. If you cringe... you feel something, if you feel something... it makes it more real. I wanted to love the plot line as much as the writing, but I just didn't get into the summer escapades the family got into. I was more impressed with the bigger picture the book was slowly revealing. I don't want to give it away, so I'd rather not go into it. However, I do want to say that the big idea was VERY disturbingly thought provoking. There was this part of the book, where the doctor was remembering a past lecture his teacher had spoken of; the professor was saying how "God" or "biology" made things a certain way and we get a warning when we try to force an "unnatural" action upon this "thing". I found that fascinating and especially in the context the Author used (can't let you know what that is).

Overall, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book to everyone. This book would/will be appreciated by certain people who can enjoy the grotesque and the evil of the world, in a natural setting (not some magical, fantasy realm). I haven't read "The Dinner" but I would imagine he uses the same tactics, first world problems, unruly and despicable characters with disturbing events popping up along the way. Arianna just recently reviewed "The Dinner" and I think she was as neutral as I was about Koch's book. I enjoyed the book enough to want to read his next one though.

Happy Reading,

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