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The detour – by Gerbrand Bakker

July 25, 2013

detour (1)A Dutch woman rents a farm in rural Wales and sets about making the house and grounds more homey. After a few weeks, a young man hiking the nearby footpath stops in and stays for a night, but his visit turns into weeks. A creepy neighbour pops in from time to time. As the novel progresses, we learn something about why the woman, a researcher studying Emily Dickinson, fled her husband and job, what the husband is doing about it, and what happened to the old woman who owned the farm, though details remain ambiguous. What is clear is that the woman is in turmoil, and she’s seeking something – comfort? relief? escape? – in her solitude and isolation.

This is a very quiet and atmospheric novel in which little action occurs, yet I couldn’t put it down until I finished it and the story – moody, mysterious, disturbing in a way – still lingers in my mind. It’s a page turner, but not in the way we normally think of this phrase. This isn’t a novel everyone would enjoy, but I liked it. The author won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his first novel, The Twin, and both were translated from the Dutch by David Colmer.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    October 11, 2013 3:26 pm

    Hey I was just wondering if you knew what happened to Emily in the end of the novel… I just didn’t get it.

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