Book Review: Caesarion by Tommy Wieringa

Cesaerion by Tommy Wieringa

A few years ago I enjoyed reading Joe Speedboat by the Dutch writer Tommy Wieringa so when I saw that a new book had come out in 2009, I was keen to read it. Still, it took me until now to pick it up from the library.

Both Joe Speedboat and Caesarion are translated into English.

Caesarion: What it is about

The story starts with Ludwig Unger travelling back to England to attend the funeral of a former neighbour. In his younger years he lived in an English sea-side town with his mother. The house stood near a crumbling cliff and there was the danger that the house would disappear into the sea.

While in England, he decides to take a temporary job as pianist in a hotel to finance his stay, as he is planning to stay for a while. We find out that he has been travelling for years from hotel to hotel as a bar pianist.

Ludwig’s parents (father an Austrian artist living somewhere far away, his mother is Dutch) separated quite soon after Ludwig was born. He and his mother spent their years travelling around and staying in different countries for a few years at a time before moving on.

It soon becomes clear that Ludwig has a strong connection with his mother, even with her somewhat dark past. As an adult, he still follows her around, he still needs her, although later on the tables are turned.

Eventually he also goes to look for his father, whom he’s never met. But how badly does he still needs his parents, really?

Caesarion: What I thought

I loved the beginning of this story and I was thinking this was going to be as good as Joe Speedboat. It was well-written and about England, which I like. But then Ludwig follows his mother to the US and it all becomes a little less interesting.

The life that Ludwig leads becomes more insecure and I didn’t like that. I don’t necessarily need a positive story but the situation that Ludwig find himself in becomes rather pointless. I’d rather have a story where I expect things to end badly. In this story, I didn’t know what to think of it. It seemed Ludwig had reached an impasse in his life. Not really interesting to read about, I thought.

The relationships that Ludwig has with women weren’t always to pleasant to read about, either. Of course, that is related to how he relates to his mother, too.

Something I did enjoy a lot is that the readers slowly discovers that Ludwig isn’t all that different from his mother, even if he criticizes her often.

I liked the beginning much, much more than the final part. But the very end, the final page, was beautiful again. I enjoyed this book a little less than Joe Speeboat but will pick up other books by this writer in the future.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book: from the library

I read this in: Dutch, the original language. The English title is Caesarion.

Number of pages: 366 (Dutch edition)

First published: 2009, English edition June 2011

Genre: contemporary fiction

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13 Responses to Book Review: Caesarion by Tommy Wieringa

  1. parrish says:

    I enjoyed this book (in English), thought it beautifully written, the only bit I thought unnecessary was the end bit where he visits his father, which felt like it was bolted on .

    • Leeswammes says:

      *** SPOILER ALERT ***

      Parrish, I don’t know, I think the visit to his father fitted well, it showed him that he didn’t really need his parents and it opened the way for him to start his own life in his own way.

  2. Cindy says:

    I’d like to read this, sounds very good.

  3. Lena says:

    Great review. I’m so jealous you can read books in different languages. Sounds like Ludwig was passive in his life, that can lead to a very boring read.

  4. Alex says:

    I’m curious: How does the title relate to the story?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Good question, Alex. It has something to do with Ludwig being called Caesarion, Little Caesar by his mother. There was a reason for it, but… I forgot!

  5. Tes says:

    It sounds like an interesting story :) I would love to try it :)

  6. Nadine Nys says:

    I had heard about Joe Speedboat, and decided I would read it, but of course I totally forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me! :)

  7. Pingback: An Overview of Posts for Dutch Literature Month (2) | Iris on Books

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