Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Up to 70% off Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Shop now Shop Amazon Fire TV Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now
Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'un-freedom', 19 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Julia (Hardcover)
Van Dijk, a driver, finds his employer Chris Dudok dead at home. A box of tablets and a bowl of porridge are nearby, 'suicide for the posh' he surmises before calling the doctor who when he finally arrives delivers a verdict of suicide with a single word

"Painless."
Still there must have been a fair amount of pain before getting this far.

The key to that pain is lying on the desk in front of him: a German newspaper from 1942 with a list of names on the front page circled in red. There is also has Dudok's diary, left on the backseat of the car the night before when he asked to be dropped off early so that he could walk the rest of the way home (this in itself might have been a warning sign from a man who would have been driven 'right into his study, had that been possible.') From this end point de Kat then goes back to tell Dudok's story in three different times. We go back to Lübeck, Germany in 1938 where Chris is sent by his father to gain some factory experience before taking over the family business back in Holland. He's sees the native fervour with an outsider's eye.

'The spirit of the times seized him by the throat. Crazed masses rallied on a whim, marching and parading with soldierly discipline, Lübeck thrumming with excitement for the leader's new teachings. There was no getting away from the man. He appeared not to be taken so seriously in Holland, as though his ravings were put through a strain at the border. But the artist from Vienna was crafty, in his opinion, barking mad, but very clever. The radio seemed invented expressly for him, forever blasting into people's sitting rooms. Nobody thought to switch him off.'

Whilst there he meets a female engineer, Julia Bender, who may be a German but sees the Nazi regime with the same distance as Chris - 'I don't belong anywhere; I have no desire to belong.' - and he falls in love with her. Any hopes of a satisfying love story are delayed by Chris's tentativeness and then interrupted by the provocative actions of Julia's actor brother who enrages the regime, putting them both in danger, at a time when Nazi violence is about to reach a definitive moment.

Julia insists that Chris leave Germany and return to Holland, leaving her behind. His desire to please her means that he obeys her order, turning his back on a woman he was only just beginning to know and yet whose feelings he won't bgin to comprehend until many years later. This is to be the action that in many ways defines his life, or perhaps more accurately: his death. In the second strand of the novel we see Chris move into middle age at home, into a marriage that falters, into his enforced tenure at the head of the family firm, a life that seems to follow along a set of tracks as fixed as those that took him away from Germany and from Julia. The third and final strand follows Chris on that walk home on his last night as he gives his life a final reckoning. The way in which de Kat moves between these three separate viewpoints is as seamless and fluid as memory and his prose throughout is spare (as I have come to expect from Dutch novelists of late) but with moments of wonderful poetry. In a novel about freedom and its opposite he helps us to see that though Chris is fortunate enough to be able to escape the growing horror in Germany we have to question how much or in what way he was able to escape it at all.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.2 out of 5 stars (4 customer reviews)


3 star
0

2 star
0

1 star
0

£12.00 £4.57
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,760