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End of life novel set in Amsterdam

20th February 2018

Craving by Esther Gerritsen, end of life novel set in Amsterdam

Every spring the Dutch celebrate #Boekenweek (10 – 18 March 2018) – a celebration of books and literary culture. There are dozens of events all over the country and every year top authors are commissioned to write a special festival novella which is given away free from bookshops and libraries. Craving is one of the choices this year for Boekenweek in the UK.

End of life novel set in Amsterdam

Elisabeth has just discovered that she is riddled with cancer and happens to come across her daughter, Coco, on the Overtoom (the new place apparently to be in Amsterdam West, according to Your Little Black Book!). Their relationship has been on ice for a while, indications of mistreatment by mother to daughter way back in early childhood, and an accident through a pane of glass come up in dialogue; but the backstory of the rift is essentially glossed over. The book is  more focussed on the relationship that the two women urgently need to rebuild, initiated by Coco, who takes the arbitrary decision to move in with her mother. Yet she says of her mother “She’s not your normal woman“. Living together is clearly not going to be a bed of roses!

Coco rallies her biological father, now with Miriam, and the two descend on the dying woman. Martin, for whom Elisabeth works as a framer, has already started to take over the administration of her affairs. And the hairdresser has pertinent observations to make on what is going on. Coco herself is juggling an insecure relationship with Hans.

Death and the process of dying are hard in any relationship, and just that much harder to navigate when there has been such disconnect over years. As mum gradually sinks into a torpor, Coco can already feel the loss and is desperate to feed the creeping emptiness. The drive to do so sees her teetering on the cliff edge and it will only need a gentle push to send her into an abyss of self loathing and shocking destruction. Dismal sexual encounters ensue.

The immediacy of the relationship is well captured. The dialogue between the characters felt stilted at times and opening gambits sometimes jarred, further underlining the cracked nature of this new found but time limited relationship.

If you fancy reading this novel, specially selected for Dutch #Boekenweek, then we have 5 copies up for grabs in our GIVEAWAY

Tina for the TripFiction Team

Esther Gerritsen is not currently active on Social Media.

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