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The Twin
 
 

The Twin [Kindle Edition]

Gerbrand Bakker , David Colmer
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Review

"Bakker captures the feel of life in the Dutch countryside in a style which is both dazzling and subdued. He has produced a poignant story, recounted in a tone at once spare and loving." --"De Volkskrant"
"After finishing The Twin, all the reader can say is: here is a true writer" --"Het Parool"
"Bakker is above all a gifted stylist." --"Trouw"

Tim Parks

Stealthy, seductive story-telling that draws you into a world of silent rage and quite unexpected relationships. Compelling and convincing from beginning to end.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 339 KB
  • Print Length: 345 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0980033020
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (4 Sep 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009951687X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099516873
  • ASIN: B0031RS1VE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #68,773 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable 21 Oct 2010
By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Helmer runs his farm situated in the Dutch Platteland while also caring for his dying father. Now in his sixties Helmer, lost his twin brother when they were in their teens, his brother being his father's favoured son and the one destined to take on the farm. Helmer sought an academic future, but at the loss of his brother his father gave him no choice but to take on the farm.

Helmer relates the time spent caring for his distant father and the farm, his association with his neighbours and their two young boys, the period he takes on a young lad to help around the farm ,and as he looks back to his friendship with a young farmhand in his father employ. We follow Helmer as he moves from being a man who had no choice to approaching the possibility of being his own master.

The Twin is a beautiful story about a basically lonely man. There are no great dramas here, no cliff-hangers, with perhaps the exception of one brief episode, it is simply a gentle yet captivating tale; a most enjoyable read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly moving 27 Jan 2011
By bagoas
Format:Paperback
There may be some spoilers ahead!

The book addresses several themes: aging and loneliness, heartache and complexity of relationships within families, especially that thing so special that is the relationship between brothers, who in this case are twins, and one of them died young. In addition, the book is set in a rural environment, and dedicates an almost obsessive attention to tasks and their timing, and the rhythm of the work of a cattle farm, and is unsparing in remarks on bikes, ice skating, canoeing, and fauna and flora in general.

Helmer, the surviving twin, is in his fifties, lives a difficult relationship, made of a lot of remorse and revenge, with his dying father. Many moments of this relationship disturbed me a lot, either by the situation of a child having to take care of his father who is in the process of accelerated degradation, or because it has a very large dose of cruelty and I could never stop relating to what I am currently living in terms of family status.

The only company Helmer has are a neighbor and her two sons, still infants, who help him in some of the farm work, namely in taking care of the pair of donkeys that Helmer, against the will of his father, bought to the farm.

One day Helmer got the visit of Riet, the ex-girlfriend of his dead twin brother, that had been expelled from home by the brothers' father, who blamed her of this untimely death. As a result of her visit, the son of Riet, a troubled 17 year old that has the same name of his dead brother, spend a few months to live with Helmer on the farm as an assistant, and the relationship between them is anything but simple.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, memorable story 20 Aug 2012
By Jan
Format:Paperback
If you are looking for an action packed thriller, this is definitely not the book for you. This is a subtle story about family ties, loneliness, grief and, ultimately, hope. It is a joy to read and it is far from being depressing and gloomy as there is humour woven into the story throughout.

Helmer and his twin brother Henk were inseparable as children, but Henk was killed when the boys were in their teens and Helmer's life changed. He had never wanted to take over the family farm, but following Henk's death he is forced to give up his studies and devote his life to farming. This was to have been Henk's role in life. As the book starts, Helmer is middle-aged and his father is old and slowly dying. Helmer moves him to an upstairs room and starts to make changes in the rest of the house. A neighbour and her small boys call in from time to time, but mostly Helmer is alone with his father, his memories and the animals. The landscape is bleak, beautiful and unforgiving. Little changes. Then quite suddenly a new Henk appears in his life and long buried memories come to the surface.

I loved the quality of the prose, and so some credit must go the translator as well as the author. I loved the descriptions of the details of Helmer's daily life and his surroundings and I particularly liked the way the story evolved. We don't get the back story in one great lump, it is revealed to us bit by bit as we move through the book. Our opinion of Helmer gradually changes as we learn more about him and his relationships with his father and brother. This is great writing and a memorable story.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 19 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback
This is the most extraordinary book. Laconic, well-paced, with the strongest sense of place and atmosphere. It seems at first like a study of quiet hatred between two members of a family trapped by a shocking bereavement and the relentless commitment that is the farming life. But as this entirely credible and almost gentle story unfolds, we see the brilliance of the author's ability to depict psychological change. Gerbrand Bakker has perfect pitch as a writer. In the famous old reader's words, 'I could not put it down'. I think it is a flawless piece of work - certainly the best novel I have read this year - by far.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like nothing you've read before 19 May 2012
Format:Paperback
This is a starkly beautiful book, written like nothing I've read before. Set in the Waterland of northern Holland, the prose is as spare and gaunt as the empty landscape of wintry fields and frozen water in which it is set. It has an impressive sense of place; Bakker has that rare ability to transport the reader to a foreign landscape so that, by the end of the book, every field, tree and dyke seems intimate to us.

The plot concerns Helmer, a single farmer in his fifties. Helmer never chose to be a farmer; it only fell to him after his twin brother, Henk, died some three decades before. And now that Helmer's elderly father is dying, Helmer is aware that his life is on the cusp of change. The possibility of change is brought sharply into focus when Henk's former fiancé turns up, and seemingly offers an alternative future.

The novel is narrated in the first person, and the spartan prose reflects the constrained existence of Helmer's llife. What is marvellous about Bakker's writing is the way in which mundane details of Helmer's day are placed, without comment, against the unfolding plot. This creates a deadpan humour that contrasts with the bleakness of his life.

The novel is sad, but beautiful; unromanticised, but profound, a book full of longing and loneliness, of the unsaid and undone. It is fabulous.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous book
I have nothing negative to say about this book, beautiful moving story full of loneliness, pain, loss and hope. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Wren
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable
I really enjoyed this novel. Well-written and thoughtful. As a twin myself I found the subject matter resonated with me personally. Read more
Published 3 months ago by E. Orr
5.0 out of 5 stars Still has me thinking....
I gave this book 5 stars because it's been three months later and I'm still thinking about this book - and it's that a mark of a good novel? Read more
Published 3 months ago by pam
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book
Really liked the writing and the story of an gay man living in a rural environment and coming to terms with his sexuality.
Published 5 months ago by Atomic
5.0 out of 5 stars The Twin
Heartfelt and a simplicity of prose style that is affecting and straightforward. What a wonderful book. I would recommend it to anyone. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Jack
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Clean and crisp writing, with spartan detail, accurately portraying the heartbreakingly uncommunicative nature of many men of this generation. Read more
Published on 16 Mar 2012 by liveenl
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific
A beautifully written and profound study of man in isolation, and his struggle to develop his own identity. Read more
Published on 14 July 2011 by C. Vaughan
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of loneliness, longing and beauty.
This a beautifully written book which captures the essence of love and longing and loneliness. Beneath the calm and little changing surface of Helmer's life lies a depth and... Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2011 by Steve
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Dutch book but poorly translated
I always read the Amazon reviews, but this is the first time I've felt compelled to contribute one myself. Read more
Published on 17 Nov 2010 by I Wijne
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Popular Highlights

 (What's this?)
&quote;
'It's the most beautiful thing in the world, Henk.' 'Do you feel like half a person now?' &quote;
Highlighted by 4 Kindle users
&quote;
'I can't stand you because you ruined my life. I don't call a doctor because I think it's high time you stopped ruining my life, and I tell Ada you're senile because it makes things that much easier. If you're senile, then none of it makes any difference anyway. What I say, what you say. And you don't know the half of what I would have done for Henk. &quote;
Highlighted by 4 Kindle users
&quote;
A day to feel homesick. Not for home, because that's where I am, but for days that were just like this, only long ago. &quote;
Highlighted by 4 Kindle users

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