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Reader Reviewed
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 Years Old by Hendrik Groen
  

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 Years Old

Literary Fiction   Family Drama   Reading Groups   Relationship Stories   Summer Reading   eBook Favourites   eBook Favourites   
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Lovereading view...

Poignant, moving and funny, I chuckled my way through this delightful (but no longer secret) diary from the rather lovable Hendrik Groen.

Hendrik has reached the age where his address book is depressingly empty and his life has become an endless string of funerals and conversations concerning bowel movements, the latest list of ailments and euthanasia. The care home he lives in is like a waiting room for death and so in an effort to keep his own sanity he decides to write his memoir. He intends to record it all, the mystery of the fish murderer, the suspicious activities being carried out by those who run the establishment and last but by no means least the happenings of THE-OLD-BUT-NOT-DEAD club.

Hendrik is an endearing character who I very much enjoyed spending time with in this gentle read that left me feeling a little sad but hopeful. Snippets of the life he lived and what remains of it filter in throughout the book and have a greater sense of poignancy as they merge in with the everyday happenings of the here and now. When we are old we are still very much the person we have always been, hopefully reading this will remind us all that behind each and every elderly person lies a story. ~ Shelley Fallows

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

An old people's home in the Netherlands is the setting for this satire but it could be anywhere except for the small amount of political references. But Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela's deaths are commented upon too. With a vast cast of residents and all kinds of worries and problems we concentrate mainly on a group of friends who form the 'old-but-not-dead club' where each member organises an outing. They do more than most old people ever think of: take a cookery lesson, wine-tasting, painting, synchronized swimming, tai chi, bowls, golf and such. Hanging over the home is the threat of renovation, therefore change. Our narrator is determined to get sight of the regulations and decides to challenge the board. Solicitors become involved. His three closest friends have a dramatic and sad year which is sensitively portrayed. The action takes place over that year and is written in diary form. Personally I feel that if you are involved with the elderly you might find this all a bit disturbing despite it's amusing style. ~ Sarah Broadhurst

If you like Hendrik Groen you might also like to read books by Jonas Jonasson, J. B. Morrison and Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Linda Hill - 'Funny, entertaining and simultaneously moving - Hendrik is a character readers can't fail to love.'
  • Lesley Mumbray-Williams - 'This book was a delight - touching, very funny as well as poignant, and a reminder that while we all get old and perhaps infirm we don't have to admit defeat!'
  • Edel Waugh - 'He slips in details that often made a lump form in my throat, it's often deeply thought provoking, sometimes laugh out loud funny, and sometimes tear-jerking.'
  • Glynis Elliott - 'Although well written, I found this novel slightly difficult to read.'
  • Humaira - 'This book is just bursting with emotion, humour and tenderness!'
  • Kathryn Whitfield - 'Honest account of life, a brilliant read.'
  • Annie Day - 'This amusing and touching account of one man's life in a care home for the elderly made me smile.'
  • Sarah Hamid - 'Twinkly-eyed oldies staging mild rebellion in an OAP home - what's not to like! A mixture of warm, likeable characters, black humour and pathos. I hope I have Hendrik's outlook on life when I'm 83!' 
  • Rachel Shapey - 'I wasn't sure what to expect from this book but it was both funny and poignant, showing what mischief the elderly residents of a care home can get up to! A worthwhile read.' 
  • Joan Sidwell - 'A joy from start to finish: funny, poignant, thought provoking, humbling and, at times, very sad, this is a must read book.'
  • Jacki Moorcroft - 'Move over Adrian Mole, there's a new KID in town! Humorous tales of life in a care home in Amsterdam. Hendrik Groen is my hero!'
  • Wendy Stubbs - 'A delightful read, tears and laughter plus occasional disbelief.  A magical book, I defy anybody not to enjoy.' 

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Synopsis

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 Years Old by Hendrik Groen

'Tuesday, 1 January Another year, and I still don't like old people. Their Zimmer-frame shuffle, their endless complaints, their tea and biscuits, their bellyaching. Me? I'm eighty-three ...' Meet Hendrik Groen. An octogenarian in a care home who has no intention of doing what he's told, or dying quietly. To that end, he creates the Old-But-Not-Dead Club and with his fellow members sets about living his final years with careless abandon. Such anarchism infuriates the care home director but pleases Eefje, the woman who makes Hendrik's frail heart palpitate. If it's never too late to have fun, then can it ever be too late to meet the love of your life?

Reviews

'Very funny' Jeremy Paxman, Financial Times

'Terrific. This geriatric Adrian Mole made me laugh' Fanny Blake, Woman and Home

'There are many laughs in this book but it's so much more than just a comedy. It's a story about how friendship, selflessness and dignity lie at the heart of the human experience. When I'm an old man, I want to be Hendrik Groen' John Boyne

'I laughed until I cried and then laughed and cried some more' David Suchet

'Highly entertaining, utterly convincing. A delightful and touching saga of one man's way of coping with old age' Daily Express

About the Author

Hendrik Groen stated his diary on the literary website of Torpedo magazine. He says about his novel: 'There's not one sentence that's a lie, but not every word is true.' The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old has been translated into over twenty languages.

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Book Info

Publication date

13th July 2017

Author

Hendrik Groen

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Publisher

Penguin Books Ltd

Format

Paperback
400 pages

Categories

Literary Fiction
Family Drama
Reading Groups
Relationship Stories
Summer Reading
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Fiction in translation

ISBN

9781405924009

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