Hello, hello, and happy Saunday! A new day, a new blog tour, a very special one – for a book that I wanted to read for ages and now had finally a chance to read it. And it was worth to wait so long, as it trully was a real gem, uplifting, poignant and with a great dose of a special, dry humour – ladies and gentlemen, I am thrilled to welcome Hendrik Groen to my blog 🙂
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old
Publishing Date: 13th July 2017
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!
Number of pages: 4oo
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Biographical Fiction
** THE INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON **
‘There are many laughs in this book but it’s so much more than just a comedy. It’s a story about how friendship, selflessness and dignity lie at the heart of the human experience. When I’m an old man, I want to be Hendrik Groen’ John Boyne, author of international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
‘Another year and I still don’t like old people. Me? I am 83 years old.’
Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn’t planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing and he had to visit his doctor more than he’d like. Technically speaking he is … elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums?
Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs – not least his new endeavour the anarchic Old-But-Not Dead Club. And when Eefje moves in – the woman Hendrik has always longed for – he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what’s left of his hair and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender and devastating consequences.
The indomitable Hendrik Groen – Holland’s unlikeliest hero – has become a cultural phenomenon in his native Netherlands and now he and his famously anonymous creator are conquering the globe. A major Dutch bestseller, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen will not only delight older readers with its wit and relevance, but will charm and inspire those who have years to go before their own expiry date.
I love books written in a diary form. My absolute winners are of course Bridget Jones and Adrian Mole – they are THE ULTIMATE books that I always turn to when I am in a need of a little TLC. And while I can’t say that both Bridget and Adrian should move over because Hendrik comes, Mr. Groen has officially earned a place of honour on my bookshelf – this was hilarious, poignant read and boy, am I happy that the book has found me! Hendrik Groen doesn’t like old people, their zimmer frames, their smell, their complaints and cracking bodies. How old is Hendrik Groen, I can hear you ask? Well, that’s the point – he’s 83 years old and lives in a residential care home in the Netherlands – brilliant, no?
I admit, I had some problems with getting into this book. It takes a lot of time before it really starts to feel like a book, and the great number of characters doesn’t help here so much. Also, It took me a little longer as expected to read this book – I liked the writing style but the language used was not too easy – it was rather on the mature, very rich and eloquent side and I needed to concentrate harder. But it didn’t spoil the reading for me, not at all, and in fact I really liked this intelligent look at Hendrik’s life. And so, when the initial problems were over, I have totally fell in love with the story and the “inmates”, as Hendrik calls the residents of the house. Hendrik and his friends are old but there is still tons of life and spirit in them. They regularly poison fish, there are pet disasters and generally they get into all sorts of trouble, just to pass their days. Hendrik is really my hero and his life attitude is brilliant and if being old means having so much zest for life than I shouldn’t fear. There is wisdom in him and he may be grumpy and mischievous but there is a lot of warmth in him, he is caring and thoughtful. His diary shows us, without beating around the bush, what life really is in care homes – all the regulations, bans, rules. Hendrik and his closest friends are members of The Old but Not Dead Club where they plan their days out and basically to have a good time. Among the friends are Eefje, who has recently moved into the house, in the room “vacated” by Mrs De Gans and who becomes Hendrik’s friend. There is Evert, who lives around the corner with his dog Mo, Edward or Grietje, and they may be sick, or may problems but they are a lovely bunch who support each other through declining health and other difficulties.
“The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old” story mixes tons of cynical humour, present problems and troubles of getting older and its consequences. Written with a lot of heart and feeling, showing that no matter what, there is still something to experience. This book is funny and poignant at the same time. It shows things as they are and it makes you appreciate your life. It’s moving and uplifting but also thought provoking and it gives a great insight into the lives of older people, and that truly tagged at the heart strings – there is really so much understanding in the writing. Inspiring und uplifting. Highly recommended!
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