Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

summerhouse-with-swimming-poolThe 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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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