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October book club

(101 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 28-Sep-16 16:00:24

Our October book is The Secret Diary of Hendrick Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old (read more about it HERE

Winners should be receiving their copies in the next few days. Don't forget that if you do get one you will need to add your thoughts and reviews* (marking any spoilers clearly) on this thread by the end of October.

*No questions this'll see why in this from Publishers Weekly

"In the media there has been a lot of speculation about who Hendrik Groen could be. Is he an actual octogenarian? Is he a famous Dutch writer? A well-known Dutch stand-up comedian? He remains anonymous, and the only thing that his publisher has revealed is that he is currently writing another diary."

Auntieflo Thu 03-Nov-16 14:34:33

I have now finished the book, and I really enjoyed it. Some of the positive previous postings have put my thoughts so much better than I could express them. I did find the story of his wife and daughter so sad, and also the fate of his late love. It's a pity that we can't pass the book on to others who would like to read it, but didn't get a copy. I am having trouble posting this, and it's not too long, is it? Tried cut and pasting 3 times so far.

BlueBelle Thu 03-Nov-16 17:29:12

I ve not quite finished it but have enjoyed it in a light hearted way I didn't find it grabbed me enough to keep wanting to pick it up but I found it entertaining in a gentle way I liked Hendrik and thought he would be a nice old boy to have arrange some outings with I liked his mischievous spirit and honesty Some of the 'inmates' characters came across stronger than others some I would have like to have known a bit more about, certainly doesn't bode well for the future if that's what's coming

Craftycat Fri 04-Nov-16 12:34:35

TBH I cannot remember requesting this book & I was surprised when it arrived. I have tried to read books similar to this before- Little Old Man who fell out of the Window & one about an old lady & have really struggled with them.
I am not enjoying this book at all -it is just not for me I'm afraid. It's all a bit too twee for me.I don't find the title character at all endearing & it is quite depressing. The humour others mention is obviously going over my head.
I am persevering but I think I will put it down for a while & see if I can get into it at a later date.

blueberry1 Sat 05-Nov-16 14:10:53

Thank you for the book gransnet.It is a warm,wry,honest and sad look at life in a care home in the Netherlands.Woven with humour,even in the face of serious illness,it brings to life the daily trials and minor triumphs of the old folks' lives.I loved the Old but not Dead Club idea and the way that the outings were a highlight in their otherwise insular lives.Also,the residents ambition to discover the mysterious rules,which seemed to be bent or entirely made up by Mrs.Stalwagen!
The characters were well rounded and realistic and could be old people from anywhere.I loved the friendship between Hendrik and Evert-they were such different characters but had a strong and supportive bond.Hendrik overlooked the fact that Evert had caused his own health problems to just be there for him,cheer him up and take care of his dog.
Hendrik really tried to make the most of his life and not let the sorrow of his wife's condition and the loss of his child make him bitter.He cared about others and did his best to help Grietje with her Alzheimer's decline and Eefje after her stroke.True friendship amid the bickering and one-upmanship of some of the less likeable residents.
The problems that come with age were treated with honesty and humour throughout the book and I think that we can all relate to something or someone in the care home.An enjoyable read with a good feel despite the sadness that is a natural part of the story.

Pittcity Sun 06-Nov-16 10:02:59

I have just finished the book. Like others I was expecting a funny, Adrian Mole type, diary. It wasn't. I giggled through the first few pages then it became clear that this was reality rather than fiction, which changed my whole view of the book. I enjoyed it as a quirky view into the realities of life in a home during old age with it's bureaucracy and fixed attitudes.

Beammeupscottie Sun 06-Nov-16 15:42:34

I like any books about old men, being an old woman and this sound amusing.

carolboz Sun 06-Nov-16 16:06:33

Finally finished the book. What a pleasure it was to read. It takes you through so many emotions as you follow Hendricks life and adventures. It also gives a good insight to life as we get older. Hendrick took us through the highs and lows of life as a resident in a care home, with good insight and providing much food for thought. Although not as humorous as depicted on the cover, nevertheless there were a few laugh out loud moments, and it certainly was not a miserable text. Looking forward to his next one. Thank you for sending me this book, it was good to read something outside my normal fiction range.

Catmanic Sun 06-Nov-16 18:06:59

I'm really enjoying this book. It's funny,poignant and very different from books I usually read. I've not finished it yet but it's very easy to read. I don't think I'd have picked it up in a bookshop or library but just goes to show that sometimes it's good to be challenged with a different genre.

granfromafar Mon 07-Nov-16 16:42:05

I had forgotten where I requested this book from, hence the delayed posting on here. I am about halfway through and am enjoying the story, finding it easy to dip in and out of. It has made me chuckle at times, and can relate some of the characters to residents in my Mum's care-home! Although there are some sad parts, I will be lending this to various friends, some of whom have elderly parents too so I think that they will appreciate it.

ranorman45 Tue 08-Nov-16 13:21:33

An ideal book to pick up and put down ,I have certainly read it in chunks and many parts have brought a wry smile or suppressed giggle as it is so true to life in many ways,we have all come across various characters similar to ones in the book and this is definitely one of the reasons it has been so well received.Would I pick it up and read it again?probably not ,but I did enjoy reading it,a little like Horrid Henry for adults!

callgirl1 Tue 08-Nov-16 16:42:35

I`ve had the book for a few days now, but only just starting it, as there`s been a lot going on here lately. I think I`m going to enjoy the book, will let you know at a later date.

cazthebookworm Wed 09-Nov-16 13:47:49

I am not really keen on topics concerning old age and care homes, I tried to avoid any confrontation with the reality of getting old or the possibility of being a resident in one myself, too depressing! Old people talk about their health, their tablets and their aches and pains, things that would incomprehensible when we were young. This book had a lot of that, and not an awful lot of humour to my thinking. The residents had to face up to their difficulties and mortality, not a pleasant task. I am sure many people will enjoy it, but it was not a favourite of mine.....hmm

Inthepink06 Wed 09-Nov-16 13:49:46

What an individual book, he certainly has lived our Hendrik, enjoyed mostly but as with all translations it probably reads better in it's native language. Interesting to see another country's point of view of the elderly from the elderly vantage point.

GandT Wed 09-Nov-16 16:58:19

I couldn't wait to finish my library book club book to start reading about Hendrick. The title and cover were very promising, as well as the uplifting 'Old But Not Dead Club'. It did not disappoint. An incredibly entertaining and funny diary for readers of a certain age! I just had to jot down some of the more poignant and frequently hilarious observations about his fellow residents (i.e. still has her ducks in a row!). A very charming and delightful read.

harrigran Thu 10-Nov-16 12:35:50

I have to say that I am not enjoying this book, old age and care homes are not really what I need at present. Some of the characters are well described and I can imagine the club outings but it is not a heart lifting book so it gets a thumbs down from me.
Sometimes humour is lost in translation.

Anya Thu 10-Nov-16 12:47:41

Finished this in record time. A good read, I like the humour alongside the angst.

I had a friend wh lost a leg (and eventually her life) to diabetes, and a much loved aunt who suffered then died from a series of strokes and my MiL had increasing dementia the last few months of her life when she lived with us.

So I could relate to all the sadness and laugh at all the little asides.

Anya Thu 10-Nov-16 13:10:15

Books, though, like music or humour have different appeal to different people. That's why I'm very wary of recommending books to others.

SuzC Thu 10-Nov-16 13:37:31

Nothing in with my book to say where it arrived from - I am guessing that it is you, lovely Gransnet. Thank you.

A year in the life of... follows the highs and lows and tells the story of a group in a care home. It is very much that - at times witty and made me laugh - at others plain sad. Very honest, poignant and thought provoking - should time be on our side, we will all be here one day! I certainly warmed to Hendrik and his group. Will definitely read the next instalment.

For now, am passing this on to my Mum who is still an avid reader, despite her years - and from our chats so far on it - she can't wait to read it!

mumofmadboys Thu 10-Nov-16 13:38:55

Thanks very much for this book Gransnet. I'm not sure I would have picked it up in a book shop but I really enjoyed it. Parts were sad and other bits made me laugh out loud. Interesting reading a book about a care home and from a slightly different view point being set abroad. I would recommend it

weather Tue 15-Nov-16 13:54:17

love this book so so funny couldn't put it down sort of book ....but able too in the sense its easy to find out where you finished last...many thanks

callgirl1 Tue 15-Nov-16 22:00:35

I didn`t find this to be the comedic book that it was described as, on the contrary, I found it to be quite a sad book. It was an interesting read, but I wouldn`t go so far as to recommend it. Sorry, GN, I usually love your book choices.

Adrienne Wed 16-Nov-16 17:29:56

I really liked this book. I have read a small part each night and so looked forward to getting back to Hendrik. I feel I know him so well, a bit brusque but with a soft centre. I think the author (and translator) did a very good job with all the characterisation and I liked the diary format. Yes it was poignant and sad, but also life affirming and amusing. Highly recommended! Thank you Gransnet

Swanny Thu 17-Nov-16 18:48:40

I've just finished this book and have read through earlier reviews before posting my own. I was surprised to see so many GNers didn't enjoy it or didn't find the humour and pathos that I felt was excellently portrayed.

Having read and enjoyed 'The 100 year old Man who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared' and 'The Extraordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81' I wasn't sure I would enjoy this. Sometimes something is lost in translation into English, but certainly not this time. Many years ago I shared an office at a residential care home and I was immediately transported back there to the world of those who make the rules for others' benefit, and how the only people those rules benefited were the management and staff, not the residents.

There is a developing trend in some areas to build this type of elderly accommodation whereby increasing care is available to residents as they need it, without having to go through moving from family home to sheltered to nursing to (sometimes) locked ward care, with small supermarket, doctor, podiatrist, hairdresser etc all on site. I live in sheltered accommodation myself and could easily identify with some of Hendrik's neighbours. Originally this building had a matron and 'home from hospital' unit but that has been done away with and residents are encouraged to be independent, but with emergency assistance at the end of a pull cord system.

I was moved by the way Hendrik's history was gradually brought to light and the way diabetes, dementia, and stroke were handled with sympathy and understanding for the individual's wishes. The duty visits by (some) family members was also delicately but realistically shown, as was the attitude of those whose only pleasure was to be cantankerous and miserable. There is a core group of residents here who organise or join in with everything going and who offer that time and attention to those who may need a friendly face or someone to look out for them from time to time.

I loved the diary-style of writing and the matter-of-fact way of dealing with tragedy. I understand this is not to everyone's taste but I found it realistic and look forward to the further adventures of Hendrik Groen.

gardener Fri 25-Nov-16 10:56:25

DavidH22 and Gemini Jen
I can't find anything else to add to your comments as copied here....

"...I'm with you in terms of your reaction to this book. Indeed, I've been quite surprised to read how many people have been prompted to laugh out loud. Maybe it is an age thing...I'm in my 70s, and looking to what may yet lie in store. I didn't find a great deal here to look forward to."

Certainly not a bundle of laughs I agree !!!
Shame as I usually enjoy my books from Gransnet.

flump Tue 29-Nov-16 18:29:36

I liked this book and the diary style way of writing made it a gentle read. Some of his observations did make me smile and a few made me laugh. The 'kick up the backside' message it gave me was life is what you make it. The reality is we are not going to be able to lead the same type of life we did when younger, for various reasons, unless we are extremely lucky. Stuff happens, as they say, and we should try to do the best we can for ourselves, even though it may take an enormous amount of willpower, because it's a waste otherwise. I liked the idea of the Old But Not Dead Club and may consider proposing one to my friends and family. grin