Book Review: The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old – Hendrik Groen, Hester Velmans (Translator) ***

‘Another year and I still don’t like old people. Me? I am 83 years old.’

Hendrik Groen lives in an old people’s home in the Netherlands and this is the diary of his 83rd year. He suffers from a number of age related ailments and has a bladder weakness but it doesn’t stop him going about his life. When a new lady moves in to the home he even gets a love interest!

It doesn’t sound like it is going to be the most uplifting of stories but the humour in this book is just wonderful. After a long cold winter he gets together with a few like-minded residents and they form the “Old but Not Dead” club organising outings for each other including trips to a casino and cookery classes. All things far removed from the regime of the care house and much to the annoyance of the other residents.

Set against a backdrop of worldwide events in 2013 Hendrik sets out the views that he has always kept to himself, his more objectionable thoughts and observations about the people living around him and the staff in the care home. It is a bittersweet story of enduring friendship and survival even in a world where you have no living relatives or visitors. It may sound a little dour but it is written in such a beautiful way that you can’t help but smile at the old man’s joys and woes.

Supplied by Net Galley and the Michael Joseph in exchange for an honest review.

UK Publication Date: 25 Aug 2016. 384 pages.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old

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