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.
On his father's death, Helmer is visited by a former worker of the farm, from the time when the twin was still alive, and that was the only person who valued and paid attention, and even affection, to Helmer.
Basically, this is what happens throughout the pages of the book. But this set of complicated relationships, all full of anguish, is served by a very dry language, with very few adjectives, written in first person, and loaded with an amazing humour, sometimes ironic sometimes tender.
The book moved me greatly, but it amused me even more. It made me love the main character, and I was fascinated by the person who was able to write a book so full of emotion and humour, and especially as able to grasp feelings and emotions, particularly the more complex and subtle. It was no doubt about it, my favourite book of the year.