The Discovery of Heaven Read-a-Long: Week 4

I’m joining in Iris on Books’ read-a-long of The Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulish (1992), a book by a Dutch writer. I’m Dutch myself (as Iris is) and so it’s great fun to do a read-a-long of a countryman’s big tome. Big it is, over 900 pages.

I’m a little late reading the fourth and final part, which is The End of the End. Watch out, spoilers!


Well, I started skimming a few pages! This was Onno talking politics and philosophy. No thanks!

After that, the story turns back to Quinten, who is in Rome and coincidentally meets his father there. Onno is hardly recognisable, he looks very shabby and doesn’t seem to have looked after himself well. Quinten moves in with Onno, who has been living in Rome for a long time.

They go on touristic trips and in one particular chapel, Quinten feels there is something special. The chapel is called the holiest place on earth. Quinten and Onno go to the library to do research. Lots of religious discussion ensues and eventually Quinten is convinced the tablets with the ten commandments are hidden in the chapel.

Onno can’t believe that, but gets himself and his son locked inside the chapel at night and steal some stone slabs, which may or may not be the ten commandments. They travel to Jerusalem (by accident) where they don’t know what to do but again visit touristic attractions and learn more about the religious background of the locations they visit.

Then Quinten gets a kind of dream in which he drops the tablets on a marble floor and the letters, all the text of the ten commandments fly in the air, up into the sky. This way the ten commandments return to heaven.


I know I missed many references and symbolism here! I didn’t read it all and I certainly didn’t understand it all.

I did get the feeling this final part of the book was a Dan Brown novel avant la lettre. It was fun to see whether Quinten really had found those very old tablets but I could have done with much of the religious discussion.

The book ended in confusion for me. What had actually happened? How was this important for the angels in heaven that had manipulated Quinten and Onno? I’m not sure, I will check other people’s write-ups to see if they can make sense of it!

Read also Iris’ post about this last part. Here.

What do you think of this final part?

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4 Responses to The Discovery of Heaven Read-a-Long: Week 4

  1. Lian says:

    I’m very happy to hear I’m not the only one who didn’t get the end of the book! I’m really annoyed by that though, let me know if you find out!

  2. Alex says:

    I also skimmed a little, especially those pages where Onno goes off and there’s not even one paragraph. I think those are the ones you’ve also mentioned: pages and pages of a big block of text.

    The author clearly wanted the ending to be up to the reader’s take on it. Mine was: Quinten goes up to Heaven with the tables, Onno dies on the phone. God is happy, mission accomplished.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Interesting, Alex. I didn’t think Quinten went to heaven, thought he’d be around somewhere afterwards. But it was all a bit confusing. 🙂

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