When I have mentioned that I was going to read this book I received a number of comments that made me think I wasn’t going to like it – that wasn’t strictly true, it was a good read but not enjoyable due to the horrific actions recounted.
Set across the course of a dinner in a Dutch restaurant two men sit down to discuss their sons. Paul and Serge, and their wives, Claire and Babette, meet for dinner in a swanky restaurant in Amsterdam. Each of the couples has a 15-year-old son and, we discover, the dinner has been arranged to discuss a horrifying act perpetrated by the two boys.
What follows is a shocking tale, and I don’t use that phrase lightly. This is not a simple tale of the boy’s transgressions but a journey back through time showing how earlier actions led to the need to have the dinner.
I found this book thought-provoking although it wasn’t what you could call an entirely enjoyable read. In short there were moments when I was genuinely shocked at the revelations on the page in front of me. I found it disturbing how my sympathy for the various characters changed totally with each piece of information casually revealed.
The root of this tale of how far should a parent go to protect their child? A ‘What would you do?’ sort of story. A look at what happens when certainties of middle-class are shattered. Don’t be deceived though, it is also more than that, an example of how the surface of a family can hide much darker undertones. I found the way that the truth of what has happened and why coming out over the course of a dinner a great setting. To then realise that I felt totally differently about the four diners at the end than I had at the beginning the mark of a clever author it’s just a shame that his characters were morally deficient.