They Could Use a Shrink

There aren’t many books that I consider to be disappointing. Over the years I have been recommended books that turn out to be books I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to read myself, yet they were never bad enough to stop reading. (Except one book that I had to read for my Dutch class.)

At the beginning of 2012, a few of my colleagues thought it would be nice to start a reading club. Every six weeks our group meets up to enjoy a lovely lunch and discuss the book. (Though it could be argued we use the book as an excuse to meet up and have lunch.) Each member chooses in turn one book that the whole group will read.

De Verdovers by Anna Enquist

De VerdoversOne of the first books we read was De Verdovers by Anna Enquist. (A translation could be Anesthetised since one of the characters is an anaesthesiologist.) I usually don’t buy books without having this deep rooted feeling of ‘I-really-want-to-have-this-book.’ When I held this book in my hands, I felt entirely nothing. So instead of spending a lot of money on a hardcover, I decided to pick up a copy at the library first.

After spending the first afternoon in the library, I had read half of it. I could say it was a smooth read and a real page turner but the truth is, I began to read diagonally. Had I read everything? Very unlikely. Did I miss anything important? Perhaps but since it didn’t influence following the storyline, I concluded that I hadn’t missed anything more important than some interesting details.

De Verdovers is a psychological novel. I don’t mind reading about people struggling with their personal problems. But I clearly don’t like it when it is the main theme. If it would have been just one character, I could have lived with it. But all the characters involved were a psychological mess. Even the first character Drik doubts his own skills as a shrink, while his sister Suzan doesn’t understand why she and her daughter Roos get more alienated as Roos grows up. Despite being happily married, Suzan begins an affair with the new and mentally unstable intern Allard who evidently is a client of her brother’s. Drik learns about this through the sessions with Allard kicking off yet another struggle: to tell or not to tell. He decides not to tell.

The moment the intern kisses Suzan underneath the operating table I thought That boy is her daughter’s boyfriend. Then the most remarkable thing happened: Allard turned out to be Roos’ boyfriend. The pages that followed were the most exciting. It was a shame that those pages turned out to be the last 20 pages or so of the book.

As I finish writing this I realise that this book might not even be available in English. In that case: Good news, no need to avoid it.

Cecile

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