Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years by Old Hendrik Groen

'There are many laughs in this book but it's so much more than just a comedy. It's a story about how friendship, selflessness and dignity lie at the heart of the human experience. When I'm an old man, I want to be Hendrik Groen' John Boyne, author of international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
'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 any time 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 endeavour 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.
Praise for The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old
'Hendrik Groen's account of daily life in a care home for the elderly pulled me in with its self-deprecating humour, finely drawn characters and frank accounting of the trials of old age. Behind Hendrik's light touch and grumpy-old-man persona is a story with a great deal of heart, and some important themes. Hendrik effortlessly incorporates the politics of aged care, from funding to euthanasia, into his personal story and offers his own acerbic insights. Anyone who has a friend or relative in a nursing home or retirement village, or who hopes to grow old with dignity themselves, will find much to reflect on' Graeme Simsion, international bestselling author of The Rosie Project
'Funny, tragic and sometimes heart rending' Het Parool
'Hendrik Groen is a heart-warming hero' Trouw
'With pungent phrasing Groen takes down life in a retirement home. Both charming and hilarious'****Leeuwarder Courant
'Hendrik Groen is king. My mother (78) suffers from dementia. Doesn't read a newspaper or magazine anymore, only old photo albums can grab her attention for longer than 5 minutes. Hendrik Groen made her laugh out loud' Ray Kluun, author of Love Life
'The tears came streaming down my face. From laughing so hard. I couldn't stop grinning for three days'Ouderenjournaal
'Never a dull moment with my new BFF Hendrik Groen' Read Shop, Hedel
'It reminded me of a combination between The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Wonderful! Shame it's finished already'Arjen Broers, Bookshop Bruna
'Heart-warming, funny and poignant. It's about all aspects of life.
You wouldn't believe how good that book is. It has been quite a while since I have laughed so hard that my tummy hurts. It's wicked, and twisted... and full of my sense of humour, which a very hard one to keep up with. I have to share something with you, I am a child of older parents... My dad turned 70 in April this year... and believe me when I tell you Hendrick Groen is only half of what my dad can bring to the table! Now that I am living away from my parents and get to see them only 2-3 times a year I could fully appreciate the merits of being raised by parents who have a sense of humour! Nothing teaches you better about life than that. And Hendrick Groen is the embodiment of that: he is grumpy, cynical, politically incorrect, full of life, funny and a rebel with a cause - everything I hope I would be at his age! 
You know what One day I fully intend to be a little old person in a nursing home that leads the rebellion and puts Vodka in the Iv bags, because that shows home much you love life and home much more you got from it than all the calm, settled old people of that!
The story is laced with wisdom and its themes have a universality that crosses borders of the specifics of a Dutch Care Home to be issues of global concern for all of us. It is sharply observed and made me think about how much the older generation are all too easily dismissed and ignored in our society.
This book very much reminded me of "The Hundred Year old man who jumped out of a window and disappeared,' as it has a similar balance of humour and political and social comment. But also there was something that calls for a parallel with the "The Lady In The Van" by Alan Bennett. 
Highly recommended for everyone. No wonder it's a runaway hit in the Netherlands. I'm very thankful that it's been translated into English for us.5FOXGIVEN