Monday, 3 August 2015

Komt Een Vrouw bij de Dokter / Love Life by Kluun: Book review

As I crept into bed sniffing and snottering my husband asked,

"Finished your book then?"

Yes I had. I had just turned the final page over of 'Komt een Vrouw bij de Dokter' written by Kluun (aka Raymond van de Klundert). This is Kluun's debut novel written in 2003 and is dramatised from events in his own life.

It's a funny thing to enjoy a book which evokes gut wrenching tears but enjoy it I did. Well, when I say enjoy... I mean I found it hard to put down, I emphasised with the characters and I experienced their pain. That's what a good book should do right - put you into someone else's world?

When I woke the next morning I had puffed up red eyes and I was glad the book was finished. The Dutch presenter Myrna Goossen sums this book up perfectly, "Man, man, wat een heftig book."

Komt een vrouw bij de doktor is a book about Stijn and Carmen living in Amsterdam in the prime of their life, both running their own companies, enjoying the night life of the Dutch capital city, surrounded by success and friends. Until they are struck by breast cancer.

This book is their journey through cancer, about how it rips at the heart of their family and confronts their close friends. It is written from the perspective of Stijn, a fun loving, philandering, emotionally challenged husband, as he faces up to the reality that his wife is terminally ill. There'll be moments in the book where you'll want to hurt him. He behaves, as the Dutch would say, like a klootzak.

It is a book about preparing for the end of a life, an ode to love and the strength of family. The book is a roller coaster of emotion from anger at the medical establishment, to hope brought by treatment options, desperation as the effects of chemo take hold, to the final realisation that Carmen won't see their young daughter Luna grow up. It is a heart wrenching read, and all the more because it is based on real events.

Be prepared for humour and tears.

For those who relish the challenge of a good read in Dutch the book is available from or any other local bookstore. If you'd prefer to read the book in English it's available under the title Love Life by Ray Kluun. It has also been made into a very successful film starring Carice van Houten, Barry Atsma and Pierre Bokma.

A book sequel entitled "Widower" is also available (though I am yet to read it but it is on my reading list for sure).

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