Summer House with Swimming Pool


The blistering new novel from Herman Koch, author of the instant New York Times bestseller The Dinner

When a medical procedure goes horribly wrong and famous actor Ralph Meier winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser needs to come up with some answers. After all, reputation is everything in this business. Personally, he’s not exactly upset that Ralph is gone, but as a high-profile doctor to the stars, Marc can’t hide from the truth forever.

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The blistering new novel from Herman Koch, author of the instant New York Times bestseller The Dinner

When a medical procedure goes horribly wrong and famous actor Ralph Meier winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser needs to come up with some answers. After all, reputation is everything in this business. Personally, he’s not exactly upset that Ralph is gone, but as a high-profile doctor to the stars, Marc can’t hide from the truth forever.

It all started the previous summer. Marc, his wife, and their two beautiful teenage daughters agreed to spend a week at the Meiers’ extravagant summer home on the Mediterranean. Joined by Ralph and his striking wife, Judith, her mother, and film director Stanley Forbes and his much younger girlfriend, the group settles in for days of sunshine, wine tasting, and trips to the beach. But when a violent incident disrupts the idyll, darker motivations are revealed, and suddenly no one can be trusted. As the ultimate holiday soon turns into a nightmare, the circumstances surrounding Ralph’s later death begin to reveal the disturbing reality behind that summer’s tragedy.

Featuring the razor-sharp humor and acute psychological insight that made The Dinner an international phenomenon, Summer House with Swimming Pool is a controversial, thought-provoking novel that showcases Herman Koch at his finest.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/31/2014
In Koch’s equally devious follow-up to The Dinner, civilization is once again only a thin cover-up for man’s baser instincts. This time out, we meet Dr. Marc Schlosser, whose practice includes a new patient, veteran TV and stage actor Ralph Meier. At a party, Marc doesn’t like the way Ralph looks at his wife, Caroline. So when Marc and his family are invited to spend part of their vacation at Ralph’s summer house (with swimming pool), Marc reluctantly accepts. There, his family mingles with Ralph’s family, as well as houseguests Stanley Forbes, a film director, and his much younger girlfriend. The air is rife with sexual tension as Ralph showers too much attention on Marc’s underage daughter, Julia, and Marc toys with having an affair with Ralph’s wife, Judith. Then tragedy strikes. One year later, through a confluence of events, Ralph is dead and Marc is implicated. Over the course of the novel, the truth about what really happened that summer is revealed. Although Koch, by his own admission, is not a mystery writer, he once again succeeds on that count without ever stinting on literary quality. And though it’s a bit too long, make no mistake: very few real-world events will distract readers from finishing this addictive book in one or two sittings. (June)
From the Publisher
New York Times Bestseller
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2014

“This is a novel of ideas (Have fun, book clubs)…[Koch] makes Nietzsche sound like Dale Carnegie.”—Janet Maslin, New York Times

“Caustic…Poisonous … I couldn’t stop reading this… Chapter by chapter, it is shockingly cynical and infected with a strain of humor so toxic that it should come with a bottle of Purell….Ghoulishly fascinating.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post

“The opening pages grab us with a mordant view of socialized medicine and a chilled insight into the anxieties of the flesh… Disturbingly good…Psychologically rich…Deftly paced...Compelling.”—USA Today

“Summer House With Swimming Pool is a gripping read, an assault of unexpected twists and thumbscrew-turning tension.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Sick, twisted—and more important—highly entertaining… Balmy temperatures and sunny skies won't stop the chill that runs up and down your spine as the story unfolds…A modern-day Agatha Christie… [This] could be the most talked-about book of the summer.”—Chicago Tribune

“Bound to satisfy fans of The Dinner…A new psychological thriller about nasty people on an opulent vacation.”—Boston Globe

"Twisty, thrilling."—New York Post

"There are all kinds of scary novels, and this one, out of the Netherlands, Herman Koch’s “Summer House With Swimming Pool,” is perhaps the most unsettling sort. It’s devilish...You'll be hooked."—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Gripping...Koch uses language like a stethoscope, so that we can hear the beating hearts of his characters and their visceral feelings of envy, love, fear and hatred...The novel anatomises our most unsavoury impulses with scalpel-like prose...For fans of thrillers such as Gone Girl, this should be the summer's essential reading."—The Guardian

"This book is horribly thrilling, and utterly entertaining. There is a manic clarity and gleefulness to its writing...Take this book to the beach, you'll be gripped and chilled."—The Independent

“In Koch’s equally devious follow-up to The Dinner, civilization is once again only a thin cover-up for man’s baser instincts...Make no mistake: very few real-world events will distract readers from finishing this addictive book in one or two sittings.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[In The Dinner,] Koch’s wry wit and sardonic approach to marriage and children transformed a grisly act of violence into fodder for parental and ethical contemplation. Here, he once again probes the limits of parental protection…[and] continues to illuminate ways in which our Freudian unconscious takes dreadful revenge on the ego.”—Library Journal (starred review)

"Just as he did in his bestseller, The Dinner (2013), Dutch novelist Koch tells a sinister tale through the eyes of a questionable narrator...Koch's deft and nuanced exploration of gender, guilt, and vengeance make his second novel to be translated into English an absorbing read."—Booklist

“In this disquieting novel from Koch (The Dinner, 2013, etc.), sex, celebrity and medical ethics become inextricably tangled as a summer idyll goes nightmarishly wrong...A sly psychological thriller lurks within this pitch-dark comedy of manners.”Kirkus

"Herman Koch (The Dinner) dishes up another rich stew of language, character and cynicism...[with] a summer vacation mystery."—Shelf Awareness

Praise for Herman Koch’s The Dinner 

“A European Gone GirlThe Dinner, a sly psychological thriller that hinges on a horrific crime and its consequences for two families, has become one of spring’s most anticipated suspense novels.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Poised to shake up American publishing…Koch tells a story that could very well take away your appetite.” —USA

"[Koch] has created a clever, dark confection...absorbing and highly readable." —New York Times Book Review

“[A] deliciously Mr. Ripley-esque drama.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“You’ll eat it up, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Koch’s ability to toy with the reader’s alliances while using one family’s distress to consider greater societal ills gives the novel a vital punch.” —Daily Beast

“A tart main course that explores how quickly the facade of civility can crumble. It's hard to digest at times, but with a thought-provoking taste that lingers.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer

“The novel has been called the Gone Girl of the Continent, and not without cause: Like Gillian Flynn’s bestseller, it’s a tale told by an unreliable narrator, full of twists and skillfully executed revelations, ultimately registering as a black parable about the deceptively civilized surface of cosmopolitan, middle-class lives…What Koch achieves with his prose—plain but undergirded by breathtaking angles, like a beautiful face scrubbed free of makeup — is a brilliantly engineered and (for the thoughtful reader) chastening mindfuck. The novel is designed to make you think twice, then thrice, not only about what goes on within its pages, but also the next time indignation rises up, pure and fiery, in your own heart.” —

“Briskly paced and full of ingenious twists—a compulsive read…for those who can tolerate the unsavory company, The Dinner is a treat they’ll gulp down in one sitting.” —Dallas Morning News

The Dinner begins with drinks and dark satire, and goes stealthily and hauntingly from there. It's chilling, nasty, smart, shocking and unputdownable. Read the novel in one big gulp, and then make plans with friends—you’ll be desperate to debate this book over cocktails, appetizers, entrees, dessert…and then you still won't be done talking about it.” – Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl

“Funny, provocative and exceedingly dark, this is a brilliantly addictive novel that wraps its hands around your throat on page one and doesn’t let go.” – SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep

“Herman Koch has written a sneakily disturbing novel. He lures us into his story with his unfailingly reasonable tone (just acidic enough to be entertaining), and before we know it we've found ourselves in places we never would've consented to go. The Dinner is a smart, amiably misanthropic book, and it's tremendous fun to read.” – Scott Smith, author of The Ruins

The Dinner is a riveting, compelling and a deliciously uncomfortable read. Like all great satire it is both lacerating and so very funny... Intelligent and complex, this novel is both a punch to the guts and also a tonic. It clears the air. A wonderful book.” – Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap

“What a tremendous book. I loved every single gripping and strange thing about it.” – MJ Hyland, author of Carry Me Down

“By the end of The Dinner you'll have to rethink everything, including who you are and what you believe. This is a book you won't forget.” – David Vann, author of Dirt

“Mesmerizing and disturbing… fast-paced and addictive…The Dinner, already a bestseller in Europe, is sure to find an enthusiastic American readership as well.” – Book Page

“This chilling novel starts out as a witty look at contemporary manners…before turning into a take-no-prisoners psychological thriller…With dark humor, Koch dramatizes the lengths to which people will go to preserve a comfortable way of life…this is a cunningly crafted thriller that will never allow you to look at a serviette in the same way again.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A high-class meal provides an unlikely window into privilege, violence and madness…Koch’s slow revelation of the central crisis is expertly paced, and he’s opened up a serious question of what parents owe their children, and how much of their character is passed on to them…a chilling vision of the ugliness of keeping up appearances.” - Kirkus

International Praise for The Dinner

“The perfect undemanding, credible, terrifying beach read.” Financial Times

‘‘[The Dinner] proves how powerful fiction can be in illuminating the modern world...The reader does not rise from his table happy and replete so much as stand up suddenly, pale and reeling. Bored with Fifty Shades of Grey and all that brouhaha? Read The Dinner—and taste the shock.” The Economist

“I’m confidently predicting that The Dinner will become this summer’s literary talk of the town—and the Twittersphere—here in the UK, as it already is in Continental Europe, where the novel has sold more than a million copies. Order yours now.” Evening Standard

“Shivers kept shooting up my backbone as I became engrossed in Koch’s darkly disturbing tale of family life. . .As the dinner disintegrates into mayhem, we discover just how far the middle classes will go to protect their monstrous offspring.” Daily Mail

“Rather like The Slap it is set to become a contentious must-read. It may thrill, chill or cheat, but it is undeniably riveting.” The Independent

“This tense and thought-provoking family drama is set to become a major literary talking point as it asks the question: Just how far would you go to protect your family?” The Bookseller

“Hugely accomplished and surprisingly subtle.” Readers Digest (UK)

Library Journal
Dutch author Koch made his name with his sixth novel, The Dinner, an international best seller that hit the New York Times best sellers list, and this new book recalls his big success in plot and feel. Dr. Marc Schlosser is responsible for the death of famed actor Ralph Meier, though it only appears to be medical malpractice. When Marc's family stayed at Ralph's extravagant Mediterranean summer house, Marc's eldest daughter was raped, and the distraught doctor suspects either Ralph or film director Stanley Forbes, also a guest at the time. Koch's new book has sold 300,000 copies in Holland alone, and, interestingly, readers abroad seem either to love it or to hate it.
The Barnes & Noble Review

The Dutch novelist Herman Koch has a merciless talent for trapping readers inside the minds of particularly unpleasant narrators. His 2012 novel The Dinner compelled us to view bourgeois Amsterdam through the eyes of a liar simmering with anger and contempt. And the protagonist in Summer House with Swimming Pool is an even more disturbing specimen. Marc Schlosser is a physician, a man we want to trust when we enter his consulting room. ''I take my time,'' Schlosser begins, ''…They think I give them more attention than other doctors. But all I give them is more time. By the end of sixty seconds I've seen all I need to know.'' Faking concern, Schlosser regards his rich and often famous clients with disdain and the human body with disgust. ''I don't want to see them,'' he admits, ''those parts where the sun never shines… I pretend to look but I'm thinking about something else.'' The ritual of the physical examination is sadistically described: ''Turn on your side. I pull the rubber gloves tighter over my fingers and further over my wrists. The sound of snapping rubber always reminds me of party balloons.'' With such graphic details coming in just the first few pages, Koch creates an atmosphere of creepy intimacy and inchoate menace that thickens as the plot unfolds.

This is an elegant revenge drama with a horrible twist, the machinery of which begins smoothly turning when a famous actor seeks Schlosser's advice. ''Now we're eighteen months down the road and Ralph Meier is dead,'' Schlosser recalls, ''…Something you might describe as a 'medical error.' '' The nature of that error is revealed only toward the end, in one of the novel's most chilling scenes (''I pushed the scalpel in until I reached healthy tissue… At this moment I was sowing something''), but at the outset Koch reveals just enough to snare the reader and sharpen the tension. On his deathbed, Meier apologizes to Schlosser, but for what? At Meier's graveside, his widow spits in Schlosser's face. Schlosser is called before the Board of Medical Examiners. It is on the eve of this showdown that Schlosser's narrative returns to the moment when the Meiers and Schlossers meet. Ralph eyes Schlosser's wife wolfishly; Schlosser casts a clinical eye on Judith Meier. The Meiers' son and the Schlossers' daughter are mutually attracted. Lying to his wife, Schlosser soon makes sure that the families run into each other on a Mediterranean vacation where the novel settles into a languorous rhythm that is violently broken when Schlosser's daughter is attacked. ''That evening, the rest of our lives began,'' Schlosser observes. ''…Everything gets heavier. Especially time.'' Koch is a nimble writer who makes few missteps (a digression into quasi-ethics, courtesy of a Professor Herzl, is one) as he subtly alters Schlosser's tone from sardonic flippancy to subdued rage that clouds his vision — and ours — until the final page. Even then, when holiday photographs take on a sinister significance (in a nod perhaps to Thomas Harris's Red Dragon), we cannot be certain of what we see.

Anna Mundow, a longtime contributor to The Irish Times and The Boston Globe, has written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, among other publications.

Reviewer: Anna Mundow

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781480543812
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 6/3/2014
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Sales rank: 1,462,164
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Herman Koch is the author of eight novels and three collections of short stories. The Dinner, his sixth novel, has been published in twenty-five countries and was an international bestseller. He currently lives in Amsterdam.

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