Book Review: Without Mercy by Renate Dorrestein
December 2, 2012 16 Comments
Renate Dorrestein is a Dutch author, one of my favorites. Without Mercy has been translated into English which is why you can find my review of it below. And there’s another reason… (see further below).
This author has written almost 20 novels since 1983 and I’ve read at least half of them. This one was new for me (although it’s from 2001).
Without Mercy: What it is about
From amazon.com: “Reminiscent of Andre Dubus’s critically acclaimed In the Bedroom and Joyce Carol Oates’s We Were the Mulvaneys, Renate Dorrestein’s new novel explores the undercurrents of married life and the world of today’s teenagers.
“Perfect” was the word both for Phinus and Franka Vermeer’s marriage and their teenage son, Jem, but in the wake of his senseless murder, grief drives a wedge between them. Determined to resurrect the joy they once knew, the couple embarks on a weekend in the country to mend their fraying relationship. Their marital troubles, however, run deeper than they realize. Suspenseful, tragic, and strangely touching, Without Mercy portrays the preciousness of everyday happiness.”
Without Mercy: What I thought
When Phinus (a very un-Dutch name, I’ve never heard of it before) and Franka go away for a quiet weekend to work on their marriage, their past comes along with them. There is a lot left unsaid that they should have discussed years ago, and on this trip they start to realise this.
The story is built up really well. Intermixed with the “adventures” on their weekend out (they run into some troublesome teenagers) are the events that happened in the past. It becomes clear how their marriage has run into trouble and why Phinus feels guilty about the death of their son. The different ways Franka and Phinus mourn means they cannot share their grief.
The book is about marriage, delinquent teenagers, violence by and towards teenagers, grief. It sounds awful! But it’s really well-written and there isn’t a great deal of actual blood. 🙂 The ending is… hopeful.
Extra: In a few days’ time you can win your own copy of this book! I’ve got an English translation to give away.