The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old

by Hendrik Groen

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Overview

‘Another year and I still don’t like old people. Me? I am 83 years old.’Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn’t planning to be buried anytime soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing and he had to visit his doctor more than he’d like. Technically speaking he is … elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums?Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs—not least his new endeavor the anarchic Old-But-Not Dead Club. And when Eefje moves in—the woman Hendrik has always longed for—he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what’s left of his hair and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender and devastating consequences.The indomitable Hendrik Groen—Holland’s unlikeliest hero—has become a cultural phenomenon in his native Netherlands and now he and his famously anonymous creator are conquering the globe. A major Dutch bestseller, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen will not only delight older readers with its wit and relevance, but will charm and inspire those who have years to go before their own expiry date.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781478918844
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Publication date: 07/11/2017
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Hendrik Groen started his diary on the literary website of Torpedo Magazine. He says about his novel: "There's not one sentence that's a lie, but not every word is true." The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old has been translated into over twenty languages.

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The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started a tad slow but I really enjoyed it the longer I read it. Currently have a family member in a home that sounds just like the one in the book but the book is so much more funny. Really got attached to the characters. Laughter through tears!
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 ¼ years old is the first book by Dutch old age pensioner and care home resident, Hendrik Groen. Hendrik starts his diary on the 1st January, 2013 with the aim of “giving the world an uncensored expose: a year in the life of the inmates of a care home in North Amsterdam”. Hendrik’s descriptions of the goings-on, the staff and residents at his care home are witty, dry, often sarcastic and usually funny. The home’s director “Mrs Stelwagen is always friendly, ready with a willing ear and an encouraging word for everyone, but concealed beneath this veneer of sympathy is an unhealthy dose of self-importance and power lust” Hendrik’s comments on the day’s events, both in the home and in the greater world are always pithy and insightful. Deaths are big on the agenda: “The deceased are a favourite subject of discussion among the elderly. Perhaps it’s to remind themselves that they are still alive”; euthanasia, too, attracts discussion “Old people are already considered of little social value, but if years from now there are even more of us, I can predict that anyone over seventy will get a nice fat bonus for volunteering to be euthanized”. When ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ bracelets are made available, Hendrik muses: “What if the paramedics don’t notice your ‘Do not resuscitate’ bracelet until they’ve got your ticker going again with a powerful electric shock? What then? Would they have to desuscitate you?” Hendrik gets together with some like-minded residents to form the Old-But-Not-Dead Club, for the purpose of planning some activities to which they can truly look forward. Staff are disapproving and the director seems to be intent on finding rules and regulations to curtail their enjoyment: “Rules, supposedly, are always for our own good. But of course they’re first and foremost a means of avoiding risk and preventing lawsuits” As Hendrik comments on politics and policies, the demise of famous people, the abdication of the Queen, the retirement of the Pope, the attitude of offspring, Tour de France, bullies, mobility scooters, budget cutbacks, Freedom of Information regulations, the war in Syria, and the debilities that age brings, he gives the reader a novel that is blackly funny, but also very moving. And makes us really think about how we treat our elderly. Hendrik Groen is an alias: after much media speculation, in April 2016, NRC Handelsblad revealed him to be 61 year old Dutch librarian, Peter de Smet. He has written a sequel: “As Long as there is Life” which continues the story of Hendrik and his Club will be published by Michael Joseph in January 2018. Flawlessly translated from the original Dutch by Hester Velmans, this impressive debut has humour, heartache and plenty to think about.
KarenfromDothan More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. You follow Hendrik along over the course of a year, through good days and bad, friendship and love, from one adventure to the next. He’s a sensible, delightful old fellow, with a bit of the rebel in him, who finds purpose in his golden years. Most of the action takes place in a Dutch care home, and Hendrik tells all about himself and his fellow “inmates.” Written by a pseudo-anonymous Dutch author, who really seems to know his subject. Either the author is elderly himself or else he has a keen eye for observation because much of his comments are spot on. It’s a generally positive, touching story told with a lot of humor. I literally laughed out loud while reading this wonderful book.
Evelina_AvalinahsBooks More than 1 year ago
Um... what did I just read? And why are people reading this..? This seems to be basically... what it is. A diary of an old guy. Nothing happens. There is no point to it. I made myself read to see if there's some moral that is coming up, at least, but... nope. Nothing. It's just someone's boring old diary. You could publish this right now. Your cousin could. All it seems to be is a weird commentary of an entire year, like a summary of what happened on the news in snippets through the eyes of a person in an elderly home. Doesn't get any more exciting! Not that I'm being disrespectful - I've read plenty of books that are told through the POV of a person in an elderly home, and some of them have been great. But this? There's no story. No plot. No underlying point. It's not even interesting for the events - cause it's several years old now and I honestly don't remember the miscellany of the time! The funniest thing? I was denied an ARC of this. Got it in the library. Next time I get denied, I'll consider it a stroke of luck by fate. If this one's anything to judge by :D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
"I made the decision to give the world a little taste of the real Hendrik Groen. I hereby declare that in this diary I am going to give the world an uncensored exposé: a year in the life of the inmates of a care home in North Amsterdam." As quoted from The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, a recommended novel, highly for the right reader. There are some funny lines: "Of the five senses, my nose still works best. Which is not always a blessing in here. It smells of old people." There are some sad, poignant moments, and some very realistic scenes, but much of the book has an optimistic feel, sort of shenanigans among the elderly, even as the people around him struggle with their health and other issues. Along with the retelling of the daily events, there is commentary about care for the elderly. Henry has his list of complaints and topics he discusses with his doctor, but he is still alive so he has decided to write a dairy exposing all the daily occurrences and happenings at the retirement home where he lives with an assortment of other "inmates." He discusses (quite a bit) his dribbles and move to wearing an adult diaper, the outings of the Old-But-Not-Dead Club, his mobility scooter, his friends amputations due to diabetes, another friends worsening dementia, and the on-going questioning of the director about the policies of the home. It is written in the diary format, so the plot is the daily events in the care home as seen through Hendrik's musings, thoughts, or stories. Although it is being compared to A Man Called Ove, the comparison didn't hold up for me. It's not necessarily bad, it's just not as well written. While I initially enjoyed it, I soon tired of the format along with the novel. Additionally, serious health problems and facing death can also come to those who are much younger than these residents. (I will concede that perhaps this wasn't a good week for me to read this one. I don't regret reading it, but I was glad when it was over.) Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.
Twink More than 1 year ago
'For fans of A Man Called Ove...'. That first line in the publisher's description of The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old by Hendrik Groen had me eager to pick up this book. But it was the voice of Hendrik Groen that has added the book to my list of favourites of 2017. "I hereby declare that in this diary I am going to give the world an uncensored exposé: a year in the life of the inmates of a care home in North Amsterdam." I love epistolary novels - they're quite intimate, letting us into the private world of a character. Through Hendrik's diary entries, we experience the highs and lows of living in a senior's care facility - the conflicts, the friendships, the day to day interactions, the worries, some shenanigans, memories, regrets, hopes and more. And though it's been done before - the us vs. them of management vs. seniors will have the reader cheering for the senior's 'team'. Hendrik is so wonderfully drawn - he has a good heart, is kind and thoughtful, has a wry sense of humour, is a keen observer and determined to not just 'exist' for however long he may have left. And from that desire, the Old But Not Dead Club is born. The other members of the club are the supporting characters we come to know the most - especially Hendrik's best friend, the irreverent Evert ("His philosophy: the only point of being alive is to kill time as pleasantly as possible. The trick is not to take anything too seriously.") and the simply lovely Eefje. Hendrik's observations will perhaps encourage the reader to take time with and listen a little more carefully to those nearing the end of their lives. Perhaps they'll also envision what they want their own later years to look like. While this novel is a picture of aging in the Netherlands, the emotions and thoughts expressed are universal. " Our calendars are completely blank - today, tomorrow, and the rest of the year. We have all the time in the world. We once complained about being overscheduled; now we're thrilled to pieces if there's something to jot down other than a doctor's appointment." "Old people are forever grunting and groaning. Sometimes it's out of exertion or pain, but more often simply out of habit. I have made a small study of it." Now, don't think this book is a 'downer' - there are lots of laugh out loud and joyful moments, alongside the realities of being eighty four years old. (And yes, you may need a tissue or two) I found The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen to be a heartstring-tugger of a read and absolutely adored it! I've discovered that there is another 'Hendrik' diary coming out - "As Long as there is Life continues the story of protagonist Hendrik – now aged 85-years-old - and follows the adventures of The Old But Not Dead Club in the Amsterdam retirement home in which he resides. Internationally, Hendrik Groen has sold in 30 territories including in the US, and a Dutch TV series based on the books, "in the vein of 'The Office', is currently in production.
Rosemary-Standeven More than 1 year ago
Hendrik Groen has gone through life seldom saying what he really thinks to avoid confrontation. He is the gentleman whom everyone likes, and exploits for his inability to say no for fear of giving offence. But aged 83, he decides it is time to change. He still won’t necessarily speak his mind, but he will write down his true feelings in a secret diary – passages of which should be read out at his funeral. So begins one of the most entertaining, fascinating and poignant diaries you are ever likely to read. Hendrik is a very liberal minded, out-ward looking elderly gentleman, in full possession of all his marbles (unlike some of the other “inmates”), though no longer at the peak of physical fitness. He lives in an Amsterdam retirement home (“After a while, the phrase ‘old-age home’ began making people feel uneasy. It was replaced with ‘retirement community’. The nursing home became a ‘care home’. The care home became a ‘care centre’. And in the latest version, it seems I am enrolled in a ‘market-oriented health-services organization providing individually tailored care’”), near his best friend the incorrigible Evert, who loves offending people. Hendrik comment on everything that affects his life – the irritations (old people, the management, his health, the in-house food …) and the joys (friendships, trips out and about…). He discusses the politics of the country and of the retirement home, religion, the monarchy, the effects of aging, and the ever present spectre of death. “The voyage out, from zero to eighteen, is wonderful, …. Round the age of forty you’re strong, healthy and powerful. In the prime of life. Sadly, you usually don’t come to that realization until the descent has already begun, as, slowly and noiselessly, your horizons shrink and life becomes emptier. Until your daily goals and ambitions are whittled down to a cup of tea and a biscuit – the old-folks’ version of the baby’s rattle”. Hendrik and five of his best friends in the home start up their “Old But Not Dead” club to expand their horizons and to add some interest to their ever more constrictive lives. Each week a different member arranges a new outing to a place or event that they haven’t tried before: “if you can’t be bothered to give things that don’t immediately interest you a chance, you risk being an old stick-in- the-mud”. Their program would be amazing for adults of any age, but is particularly impressive for a group of the over 80s. Basically, every retirement home should have a club like this to ward off the ennui of old age. Not everyone in the home is impressed, and more particularly, not everyone is invited to join. A small group of 6 – 8 is much more manageable, and is chosen to weed out the perpetual whingers and malcontents: “The past, they’re always going on about the past. Live in the present day for a change, you mummified nitwits!” The club members enjoy life and living – as much as they are able. Of course with a group of that age, not everything goes according to plan.: “We haven’t much time left, yet we have all the time in the world”. Impending death and dementia take their toll and joy turns to sadness and loss. But despite it all, Hendrik remains resolutely optimistic: “The Old But Not Dead Club must stand by its name, or else it’s a club of nothing. …. As long as there are plans, there’s life”. I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review