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The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83¼ Years Old Hardcover – 25 Aug 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph; First UK Edition First Impression edition (25 Aug. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718183002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718183004
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 3.4 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'A great deal of heart' Graeme Simsion 'Praised for its wit' BBC Radio 4 Front Row 'When I'm an old man, I want to be Hendrik Groen' John Boyne 'I laughed until I cried' David Suchet 'Thoughtful, anxious and gruff... Laced with humour' Mail on Sunday 'Amusing [and] wickedly accurate' Sunday Express (-)

A story with a great deal of heart, it pulled me in with its self-deprecating humour, finely drawn characters and important themes. Anyone who hopes to grow old with dignity will have much to reflect on (Graeme Simsion, author of international phenomenon The Rosie Project)

Thoughtful, anxious and gruff... Laced with humour (The Best New Fiction Mail on Sunday)

Full of off-beat charm and quirky characters (Cathy Rentzenbrink Stylist)

A joy to read, as much concerned with friendship and dignity as it is with the debilitating effects of aging ... An entertaining and uplifting story of a man in the winter of his days, stoic in the face of bureaucratic nonsense and an unabashed need to wear a nappy. Imagined or not, this is the diary of someone who wants nothing more than to be allowed see out his days with dignity and respect. It's not too much to ask, really, is it? (John Boyne Irish Independent)

Amusing [and] wickedly accurate ... I was constantly put in mind of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, another comi-tragedy concerning the tyranny of institutions of the unwanted. Enjoy Groen's light touch but do not be fooled by it. We live in an ageing society. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen is a handbook of resistance for our time. ***** FIVE STARS (Daily Express)

Hendrik Groen is king (Ray Kluun)

Highly entertaining ... a delightful and touching saga of one man's way of coping with old age ... we may assume that Hendrik Groen is a character of fiction. But it is a fiction so closely based on the observation of real life that it is utterly convincing (Daily Express)

Hendrik pens an exposé of his care home, sets up the Old-But-Not-Dead club and relishes the arrival of a new female resident. This geriatric Adrian Mole made me laugh and think. Terrific (Fanny Blake Woman and Home)

From the Inside Flap

'Another year and I still don't like old people. Me? I am eighty-three 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 and he has 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 and number one bestseller in his native Netherlands. Now, he and his anonymous creator, whose identity is a fiercely kept secret, are conquering the globe. 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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A really funny account if getting old.Mr Grown has an amusing turn of phrase . His description of some of the residents and his own antics made me smile throughout the book but it was also an eye opener to some aspects of being old and living in care.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some amusing moments in the book, but a very sedentary pace.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A really good read. I loved Hendrick! The mark of a good book is that your sad when it's over.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book both funny and thoughtful
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Format: Kindle Edition
Although the story is witty and infused with a strong layer of sarcasm, it also made me quite sad to think that in the end our lives are reduced to such banality. One is treated with a lack of dignity and compassion, which quite frankly is simply appalling.
The identity behind the pseudonym Hendrik Groen has been a bit of a mystery for the last few years. I can imagine quite a few old age pensioners being eyed suspiciously by inhabitants and management teams in care homes. The Volkskrant seems to be think it is a particular gentleman nearly a few decades shy of being an octogenarian.
The truth is it doesn’t really matter because Hendrik Groen is nearly all of us when it comes to being an elderly person in western society. In quite a few European countries the birthrate is now so low that in a few decades there will be more elderly citizens than younger ones. There couldn’t be a better reason to re-evaluate the way the older generations are taken care of.
In that sense I believe Groen’s diary is making some very valid points, albeit ones mixed with a good portion of irony, humour and current events.

There is a special emphasis on euthanasia and having the choice to die. Dying with Dignity has become a hot topic in the UK, with many people campaigning to allow the terminally ill, the incurable and those who don’t wish to live in constant pain, to be able to choose to die. Giving them a voice and a choice before they become too ill to be able to make a decision.
With the story being set in Amsterdam (original language Dutch) it is laden with references to Dutch traditions, holidays, food and places, which I personally enjoyed because I used to live in the German/Dutch border region.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Hendrik Groen doesn't like old people. Their zimmer frame shuffle, unreasonable impatience, endless complaints, their tea and biscuits, smells or creaking bodies. Although he himself is 83 years old and lives in a residential care home in the Netherlands.

Hendrik is fed up of being a civil, ingratiating, courteous, polite and helpful bloke. He tends to choose the path of least confrontation to try to please everybody. To stop himself spiralling into depression and boredom - in a place where to some residents the most exciting moment of their day is wondering what biscuits will arrive with their tea and coffee - he decides to give the world a taste of the real Hendrikus Gerardus Groen, by writing an uncensored diary into a year in the life of a group of "inmates" (as he calls his fellow residents), in a care home in north Amsterdam. His whistleblowing account shows us what life is really like for people in care homes; the rules, regulations and human interactions.

Although Hendrik finds the majority of the care homes residents a bunch of whingey old, stuck in the past sad sacks, he does have a few close friends who he finds nice, intelligent and, most importantly, not one whiner among them. They are the other members of The Old but Not Dead Club, an exclusive club where they plan days out and intend to not let old age get in the way of having a good time.

Among them are the kind hearted and thoughtful, Eefje Brand, who recently moved into a room Mrs De Gans "vacated" and to whom he strikes up a sweet, close and heart warming friendship. His cheeky and mischievous friend Evert Duiker, who lives independently around the corner in sheltered accommodation with his dog Mo who farts a lot.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought it for my husband who finds it a bit gloomy despite the reviews suggesting very humorous.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is one of those books when you want something a little different, then this is it. It is a good fun read, some great lol moments.
Anyone who read and enjoyed The Secret life Of Frank Derrick would enjoy this.
​Hendrik lives in a Care home, but he certainly doesn't sit looking out the window all day or watching TV. No he seems to like trouble and mischief. And he has started to record everything daily in his diary.
​As well as the fun side, it also shows how important friendship can be. and having a support group of people you can get along with, and share life.

This book also covers some of the health issues that fold in the home suffer with.

It is an interesting and different read.
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