The Dinner by Herman Koch (review) was one of my favorite books of 2013. It was controversial and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading it. I was recommending it to everyone and anyone who would listen. So it should come as no surprise that I went into Summer House with Swimming Pool with pretty high expectations. It was good. It wasn’t great, but it was a solid good.
One of the things I really liked about The Dinner is that it left me questioning how I really felt about the characters. Did I like them? No wait, I hated them, didn’t I? Without a doubt, Marc, the narrator of Summer House is unlikable. I don’t have a problem with unlikable characters, though the one thing I appreciated about The Dinner was that the characters were revealed in such a way as to make you like them and then hate them or the other way around. Overall it was a more nuanced novel.
Am I avoiding talking about Summer House With Swimming Pool? Yes. Like The Dinner, it is hard to talk about because of spoilers. Let me just say that Summer House makes a great summer read. The setting is perfect, the story is a little creepy but keeps you turning the pages and it raises a lot of great discussion points.
Who would like this book? Again, like The Dinner, I think Summer House would make a great book club pick. There is lots to talk about and much that is troubling. However, if you’ve also read The Dinner you may be disappointed by Summer House, as I was. It did not rock my world the way The Dinner did. I might also slide Summer House in along side other novels set in, well, a summer house: Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann and Swimming Home by Deborah Levy. All three have a predatory feel to them and ill advised actions.
This book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve just started this book – finding it quite disturbing (but good!).
It was disturbing and doesn’t get any better.
I love both Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann and Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (and obviously The Dinner) but I don’t think Summer Home was as good. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. It was so hard to review, without saying too much
I agree, the other books I listed are better than Summer House, but they all did have something that reminded me of each other – setting and feeling uncomfortable.
I seem to be hearing that those who loved The Dinner weren’t as thrilled with this. My favorite part about The Dinner was the slow burn of the novel and the way (like you said) the characters was revealed. I think I’m going to wait on this one a bit, but I plan to get to it eventually…with fair expectations.
The thing is, I thought The Dinner was amazing. When I finished it I needed to talk to someone about it immediately. This one just wasn’t there, but it was good. When I read The Dinner it was just new and different and I couldn’t put it down.
I liked the way you talked about this book by not talking about it. The Dinner is still on my list of books to read, so I will probably read that one first. You make this one sound good, too, though!
It’s a unique talent of mine – talking a lot while saying nothing at all.
This is reminding me of how I felt after reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and being so excited to read Mark Haddon’s follow up The Red House and being soooooo underwhelmed. I’m looking forward to reading this but maybe I should temper my expectations before wading in.
I haven’t read any Herman Koch, but you’ve got me interested, that’s for darn sure!
I say go for The Dinner. I really liked it, if you haven’t noticed.
I cannot wait to read this one. I just heard about it this morning and went to request a hold at the library. I loved The Dinner! I agree with you – it is hard to talk about this book without spoiling it some.
The Dinner was better, but this one isn’t bad.
What a creepy looking cover! Despite the possibility of spoilers, I’m curious enough that I’m going to go read a plot summary 🙂
Yeah, the cover seems a little bloody to me and it shouldn’t be. Makes it look like it’s about a slasher or something.
Great review! I agree, I find that when it comes to his novels, it’s hard to write a review or talk about it because it’s just spoilerific, lol xD
So glad I found this review especially from you (trustworthy). I’ve had this one on the nightstand and have thought I needed to get to it asap but hadn’t. Now I think I’ll wait a bit.
Wait til the moment feels right. It is good. Koch does a brilliant job of making me feel uncomfortable.
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