Summer House with Swimming Pool

Summer House with Swimming Pool

3.2 49
by Herman Koch

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The blistering, compulsively readable 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,


The blistering, compulsively readable 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 Meier’s 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 large 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.

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.

Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(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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Summerhouse with Swimming Pool 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
Summer House With Swimming Pool is the seventh novel by Dutch actor, television and radio producer, newspaper columnist and author, Herman Koch, and the second book to be translated into English. Dr Marc Schlosser, a General Physician whose patients appreciate the time he takes with them, is summoned to appear before the Board of Medical Examiners. One of his patients, celebrity actor Ralph Meier, has died, and a question hangs over his medical management. Some eighteen months earlier, Marc, his wife and two daughters spent a week at a Mediterranean summer house with Meier’s family, an ageing Hollywood director and his very young girlfriend. Most of Marc’s narration is spent recounting, in hindsight, the events of that vacation that led to a shocking climax, and its aftermath. Koch so cleverly crafts his story that the reader is left wondering exactly what crimes or misdeeds were committed during that summer interlude, and by whom. While Marc’s narration is entirely reliable, it is, of course, wholly biased, and it is equally apparent that others who contribute to the account of events have their own agendas. Many of the characters are easy to find loathsome or obnoxious and none is quite what they first seem to be. Marc demonstrates an ability to shift priorities and abandon responsibility with breath-taking ease, as well as a cold, calculating nature, which makes his actions seem thoroughly plausible. Koch’s novel touches on the Dutch medical system, paedophiles, what is appropriate treatment of sexual deviants, justice, revenge and taking the law into one’s own hands. It is a given that we cannot know mere acquaintances to any significant degree, but Koch’s novel will have the reader questioning just how well we can truly know those really close to us: our children, our parents and our spouses. Koch gives the reader some marvellously descriptive prose (his depiction of abscesses and tumours is particularly imaginative) and he inserts some moments of sharp (and occasionally quite dark) humour to relieve the building tension. Female readers will be grateful that not all men are this shallow and most readers will hope their doctor is not this cynical. This thought-provoking, powerful, and compelling read is flawlessly translated by Sam Garrett. A brilliant novel that stays with the reader long after the last page is turned.
FromtheZoo More than 1 year ago
I had read The Dinner and was consequently prepared for the characters in this book to be just as unlikable. However, I wasn't prepared to feel so offended while reading. Like The Dinner, the plot is interesting and explores how individuals react to difficult situations and the often unethical choices they make. The author is a very good writer and presents these scenarios very well. What troubled me were the consistent negative depictions of and attitudes toward women. Women were reduced to sex objects and shown no respect. Even the youngest women were treated sexually. I'm hoping that the views in the book do not represent the author's own attitudes and are merely used for literary effect. If so, then the author was successful. I've heard good art is supposed to make you feel strong emotions. By that measure, this was a good book. The emotion I felt though was disgusted.
Greenfritos More than 1 year ago
Started well, but kind of fizzles at the end for me.  I wanted a good summer read, this sufficed for that.  It was a quick read, held your attention to the end as you want to know what really happened.  Still, I felt the strong start didn't continue to the end.  I really felt the end was just that, not a conclusion.  It's like the book was moving forward, and all of a sudden it was wrapped up and done.  The development of the plot just stopped.  It's like they ran out of paper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book to consider it for my book club. We are elderly but not shocked. This book was too preoccupied with sex without it being really important to the plot. The story was hard to follow among the various characters. Sorry but I would not recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely the same guy that wrote The Dinner, but better story overall. Ending was subtle, but fantastic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the Dinner way more than this book. I stuck with it, but there were a few times I almost put it down for good.I didn't like the ending and some parts were just a little too gross for me. I didn't think that added to the story. I loved the Dinner though so I am hoping maybe his next book will be better.
SuseNJ More than 1 year ago
Superb!! For the intelligent reader only, one who appreciates subtlety and undercurrents. A marvelous story.
Injoy-Life 27 days ago
Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch was a difficult book to read. It was sheer drudgery to finish it. I started & stopped reading over a period of several weeks & it was torturous. I gave it one star. The characters, while articulately drawn, were disgusting, repulsive & throughly unlikable. I couldn’t decide which man repelled me more, Marc the doctor, or Ralph the actor. They both were reprehensible beings. The women were insipid, whining, immature manipulators. The subject matter was unpleasant to say the least. I do not recommend this book. I received a complimentary copy from Crown Publishing & NetGalley. That did not change my opinion for this review.
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Started out a bit slowly, but turned out to be a very good read. I really enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A thoroughly enjoyable story that is engrossing & even informative since it concerns a doctor & his diagnoses in some cases but also an interesting story. This book was, in my opinion, better than his last book, The Dinner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a very intriguing read! Much like "The Dinner" , Herman Koch has a captivating story line. I would highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe my misjudgment, but the book is alright
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't even finish this book. Prepared for characters to be unlikable but not this bad. Sex is fine but the amount in here is totally unrelated to anything. Very sloooooow going.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not as good as I expected. The story had no where to go and none of the characters held my interest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not an easy or enjoyable read.
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kalevala More than 1 year ago
Told by a doctor. Another family with secrets. Adolescent angst. I loved The Dinner because it was a different type of plot. If you liked the Dinner you might enjoy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was engrossing and compelling. Sometimes it made me laugh-out-loud. The story is so rich and the characters are so vivid. I did not want it to end, and thought about it for days after I finished reading it. A great "book club" discussion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago