Shortlisted for: International Author of the Year - Specsavers National Book Awards 2012
A summer's evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse - the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened. Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son.
The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children, and as civility and friendship disintegrates, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.
©2009 Herman Koch (P)2012 AudioGO Ltd
One of the best books I have read/listened to for a long time Interesting view on middle class life and a neat twist in the tail
Clive Mantle does an excellent job of bringing the characters to life in this audiobook - his reading is lively and he manages to give voice to the female characters without adopting an annoying falsetto.
The book mixes a funny take-down of the pretentions of snooty restaurants with the drama of parents confronted by the dilemma of how to respond to the crimes of their children.
It is difficult to write about this performance without spoiling the story. It had me hooked but in an uncomfortable way and that is how it leaves you at the end. The twist - running from the start to the finish - is everything, but yet it is entirely subtle.
I really enjoyed this book.
It kept on surprising me right to the end.
I liked the way he started the book and then gave small pieces of information about the characters so that your perceptions were always changing.
I enjoyed this book but moreover was intreguied by the many MANY different themes played out in the story. Although it takes place over one dinner it covers a lifetime of guilt, jealousy, hurt, love, trust in one family. The characters are believable and the relationships between them will hit a chord with every reader. A thoroughly good read.
I guess this is what is known as black humour. The restaurant scenes took me to the belly laughter stage, but the underlying darkness also kept my wits on edge. I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook and even though it took on a somewhat surreal twist towards the end, it still gripped me. I also thought the narrator did a great job. One of the most enjoyable 'reads' in ages.
This book was dull and it looked as if it was going to be so good. Too much detail of the same thing! The narrater is trying to sound like Steven Fry but badly! Its something about nothing really.
The characters in this novel are not there for you to befriend. They are dark, disturbing and unlikeable, yet the pace of the text and the unravelling of their lives is hugely compelling so you have to stick with it. This was hard to listen to at times but impossible to abandon. A mesmerising listen.
Underlying the story are emotions all too familiar - sibling rivalry, ambition, love and need between couples, parental devotion, children growing into adulthood. Yet as the thread unfolds other issues emerge and the plot deepens into sinister realms. This is a book well written and translated from its Dutch origins, set in a modern world. It is also well read by Clive Mantle, who manages to make all the different characters believable.
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