A Heart of Stone
ISBN: 014200023x Global Overview for this book
20 journalers for this copy...
From Publishers Weekly
Dorrestein's first novel to be translated into English is a riveting psychological thriller that rates comparison with Shirley Jackson's classic, We Have Always Lived in the Castle*).
Like Jackson, Dorrestein excels at describing how an eccentric family - in this case, the van Bemmels of The Hague**) - is tormented and finally destroyed by the growing madness of one of its members. Their existence seems idyllic, until a fifth child, Ida, is born, and Margje begins acting strangely. Ida suffers from mysterious, recurrent injuries, and the children's father refuses to see the obvious. Narrator Ellen, the third child, is a sharp, book-smart 13-year-old, who realizes something is wrong, but can do nothing but fly into hysterical rages. Twenty-five years later, Ellen finds herself back in her childhood home, alone, separated from her husband and expecting a baby. Dorrestein's exquisitely calibrated narrative becomes mesmerizing as Ellen struggles to comprehend how one day her whole family could just be wiped out and how she could have survived.
*) I have not read the book by Shirley Jackson, but from the reviews, I think it seems more a gothic/horror novel (a genre I don't like!) than "A Heart of Stone" is!
**) well, I think this is a little error :-) This should have been Haarlem!
About the author
Renate Dorrestein (1954) has been one of the Netherlands’ most successful writers for a few decades now. She debuted in 1983 with Buitenstaanders (Outsiders), after which she steadily built up a body of works that includes more than twenty novels. A Heart of Stones was published in 1998 and has since been translated into many language:
Et hjerte av stein (Norway), Um Coracao de Pedra (Portugal), Un coeur de Pierre (France), Album de familia (Spain/Catalan), Album de familia (Spain)
Seki no hato (Japan), Et hjerte af sten (Denmark),Album di familia (Italy), Hjarta av sten (Sweden), A heart of stone (US), A heart of stone (England)
Ein Herz von Stein (Germany), Kivisydan (Finland)
"Please, please read this book! You're in for a treat. This is a book to recommend to your friends, to lend, to share, to commend..."
"A riveting psychological thriller. A Heart of Stone is a natural for Hollywood's attention, too. The book should win Dorrestein name-recognition in the English-speaking world."
'Beautifully written, with a dry sense of humour that offsets the darkness of its subject.'
I just finished reading and I must say I'm bowled over by this breathtaking, touching story. So much so, that I can't find the right words to write a review as yet. Let's say it left me speechless! My best read so far this year.
I would like to send this out as a ring. The usual rules will apply (see my profile). This Penguin paperback copy is the American-English translation, about 250 pages (including interview and readers guide), weight: less than 200 grams.
That would be my third ring/ray of a translated Dutch novel. This time a more contemporary one than the others, that were classics from the 1940s/50s. Also a different genre, as one was historical fiction and the other one holocaust related non-fiction. BTW: I have not read it in Dutch, can't say if it's a good translation!
The genre of this cleverly and skilfully composed novel is hard to describe! You could call it:
Coming-of-age, Gothic (but not horror!), women's lit. There certainly is suspense, but I would not call it a thriller or mystery. It also has elements of Greek tragedies. You could even say, that "true-crime" would be applicable! In an interview, published in the book, the author tells that the idea for the story was born after a "wave" of similar tragic family dramas that occured in Holland during 1997. I remember the newspapers were full of them, to such an extend, that the media were asked, not to report them in headlines or a "sensational" way, for fear that the phenomena (could not really call them crimes) were being copied.
• make a journal entry when the book arrives
• try to read it within a month
• PM the next on the list to ask for his/her address
• make a new journal entry when finished, to let us know what you think of the book
• wrap it up well and send it on (mention the date in JE or make a release note)
• PM me in case of any problems/unforeseen delay. (please don't skip anyone without letting me know first!)
Please sign my Guestmap if you joined this ring
The final order has been juggled between geography, date of request, shipping limitations and personal wishes (not too high on the list etc.) Late additions may be added if preferences allow.
chich France=> anywhere
Tarna Finland=>anywhere (surface mail outside EU)
aava Finland=> EU
LindyLouMac Italy=>Europe only
TriggerfishScotland UK=>prefers EU shipping, INT if needed
AceofHearts - Canada=>anywhere
readingtrix South Africa =>anywhere
moonblue South Africa => anywhere
.............(picked up by me in person)
samulli Germany=>anywhere (surface mail) late addition.<= 30/3 it's here COMPLETED
Released 12 yrs ago (3/16/2007 UTC) at
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Bookring started! May it have a smooth and safe journey. Enjoy!
I was expecting three or four more rings today but this one is the only one that made it to my mailbox, which means I'll start reading it tonight:)
Thanks so much for starting this ring bestfriends and for giving me the opportunity to read a Dutch author for the first time!
I already have icila’s address but have PMed her so that she can reconfirm it. I’ll make a new journal entry as soon as I send her the book.
This is letter D for my ABC Challenge 2007.
Book sent to icila today, enjoy!
If you havr other Renate Dorrestein's novel, don't hesitate to share . ;)
I've read the journal entries you all have made and I must say I'm really interested in this book. Besides, I don't know much—if anything—about Dutch literature. Reading this book will be exciting too.
I'm glad it's only 250 pages. I have a big pile of books to read asap. Still, I try not to hold on to A heart of Stone for too long!
There is a lot to think about in this book. For instance, Dorrestein shows how a perfectly normal, happy family may change into totally dysfunctional one. She tells us about a child’s loyalty and helplessness, and she tells us how difficult it is even for an adult to see that someone is feeling bad, really bad. And how difficult it is to take action even if you see what’s happening. She talks about survivor’s guilt, coming to terms with bad experiences, learning to forgive oneself, and learning to forgive others, too. She talks about almost everything.
There are many themes, levels, and symbols in A Heart of Stone. The reader’s guide in the end of the book discusses some of them. I just wish I had fewer books to read for the moment and therefore more time to use with this text. I’d really like to reflect on it thoroughly. I guess I just have to get a copy of my own and reread it, very slowly this time.
I definitely want to read also other novels by Renate Dorrestein.
The English translation is great. And so is the cover photo. Well, there’s nothing special in the photo itself but the coloring is exceptional. I was wondering about that when I first saw the book. The background looks like it’s painted. And it almost is: the photo is hand tinted by Jonathan Barkat. What a great job he did!
If I was in the habit of grading books, I’d give it 9—10 points out of 10. But since I don’t normally do it, I won’t give any grades this time either.
Thank you, bestfriends, for sharing this wonderful, wonderful novel with us!
I’ll mail the book to aava this week.
Edit May 30. aava has just moved (thanks for telling me that, bestfriends!) and I've got her new addy now. Left the book in mail box, aava should get it by tomorrow or the day after that. Hope you'll enjoy both the book and your new home, aava!
Thanks ever so much bestfriends (yes,it did mention Hoofddorp and Haarlem's lovely Grote markt!) and all of you lovely people for letting me participate in this.I already have LindyLouMac's address and I'll mail the book by the end of this week.
P. S I loved the cover!
edit 6.6.2007: Mailed the book this morning.
Well worth reading, including all the authors notes at the end of the book.
Update:28/06/07:This should have been in the post by now, but I am having trouble getting hold of next reader! Problems due entirely to PM'S to me not arriving!!
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
En route to Scotland.
Thank you for sharing this bestfriends! This is another example of a book I would not have discovered without the bookcrossing community.
I'll PM AceofHearts now to pass this on.
Edited to say: AceofHearts is on holiday until August 9th according to her profile, so I won't be able to pass this on until she gets back
It is now packaged and ready to go on its way to AceofHearts (by airmail) tomorrow.
Dorrestein has Ellen narrate the story switching between the past and present. Ellen is the third of 4 soon to be 5 children in what seems like an idyllic family. Frits and Marje are Ellen's concerned,involved and busy parents. What ensues borders on a Greek tragedy.
Dorrestein very cleverly 'spins out' the story slowly. One feels the pain and terror. Ellen must learn to forgive herself and her parents. She must go past her heartbreak and get rid of her ghosts.
Included at the end of the book is an interview with the author which was very informative and detailed.
I loved this story and will look forward to more translations of Dorrestein's books.
Some time ago I bought another novel by Renate Dorrestein, translated into English, because everybody was so enthousiastic about "A Heart of Stone".
Unfortunately it's not half as good, or at least that's what I thought. I sent it to chich to "test read" it, thinking it could be me. She came to more or less the same conclusion, even rated it a bit lower than I did.
However, should any of you want to try it anyway, let me know and I will start another ring or ray. Just PM me.
Here's a link: Without Mercy - Renate Dorrestein
No one was interested in a ring/ray sofar.
for now the book will be sent to aava in Finland who has is on her wishlist.
Have PMd rrrcaron and will be sending out this week! Thanks bestfriends for organizing this!
I have been looking forward to reading this novel for a while and will send it on soon. Thanks bestfriends for sharing your book with us and to Rrrcaron for sending it on to me from afar in the USA!
The conversation with the author, Renate Dorrestein, in which she answers all questions with honesty and integrity (in the back of the book) made such an impression on me. A heart of stone is well worth a read!
Edited to add:
I passed it on to the next person without making a journal entry. Oops!.
I found the book sad and moving. In fact I cried a lot while reading it. The worst was knowing quite early on what was going to happen, but not knowing when or how. I stayed up far too late to read it through in one go because I could not put it down. And then reread it slower over the next few days to absorb it all.
A moving and powerful book, which I am very glad to have been able to read. It will take a detour to vuurhoutjie and then I will pass it back to bestfriends while she is in South Africa.
to continue in the ring via moonblue
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
I'll start on it right away.
I think it might end up on my "Best of 2008" list as well. At the very least I am very happy that it didn't end up getting lost on the way back from South Africa. ;)
I don't necessarily want the book back; samulli will give it a new home or send it along to a reader of her choice.
So the book is on its way to Berlin now.
I will post a message in the forum to see if I can find some more readers.
I'll add to the list as more people get back to me:
The book will travel to Spain tomorrow. The rest of the list will be juggled around according to shipping prefs.
I'd never heard of Renate Dorrestein before but would surely like to check out her other novels.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
book sent to popitze.
Phew, this was an enthralling read! I could hardly lay the book aside. Throughout all the book you know what befell the Van Bemmel family, but you have no clue how or why it happenend. Bit by bit you get an idea of what it all adds up to and THAT's what makes the book that thrilling. And all this is presented from a tweleve-year-old girl's point of view... I don't dare calling the book lovely - even though love is a central feature of the whole story - for the things happening are far to tragic, but I definitely will read further books of that author, she just hit the mark!
Sent the book off to DoveiLibri, the next in line. Have fun!
Added Later I've been notified that I'm the last one on the book ray list.
June 6, 2009: On the short list, it's being reserved for BookCrosser LuckOf who claimed it at the "Browse Our Short List RABCK" offer (Link to Forum Thread) It's rather far down the list, so it might be a while before it's read and sent off, but that's the plan!
October 29, 2009: NEXT on the TBR list! You should see this book traveling soon!
Added later! October 29, 2009: Oh! I just had to peek, didn't I? Well, instead of NEXT TO READ, this book became CURRENTLY READING in just a few sentences ... the author and translator have conspired to draw the reader in a tangled web, and once entangled, you cannot escape until the last word is read ...
October 30, 2009: This book is breaking my heart, and I thank God that he saved my children from this fate when I was sick with postpartum psychosis. I am almost afraid to read on ....
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES: