Book review : Het geheime dagboek van Hendrik Groen / The secret diary of Hendrik Groen
written by Hendrik Groen (Peter de Smet’s pseudonym), published by Meulenhoff
genre diary / fiction, 328 pages
One the many books I read this year is the first diary of Hendrik Groen. Even though I’d heard so many people praise the Hendrik Groen books, I always have to find out for myself. Last Christmas I got the first Hendrik Groen book, ‘Pogingen iets van het leven te maken’ (in English it’s called ‘The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83¼ Years Old’) as a Christmas gift and I fell in love with Hendrik and his friends as soon as I started to read. Since this first diary, three more Hendrik Groen books were published and I guess I’ll read them all. I just can’t imagine that the life and adventures of Hendrik and his friends will ever fail to entertain.
The first book actually is Hendrik’s diary he starts to write on January 1st 2013. In short, seemingly light-hearted, but above all frank diary entries, Hendrik describes all the ups and downs of life in a care home in Amsterdam. What makes his diary so intriguing are all the tiny details Hendrik observes and his reflections on human nature and interactions. He has a bright and clever mind and also challenges himself to stop being the nice guy all the time. Hendrik has been a polite and quiet guy his whole life and although he’ll never loose his good manners, Hendrik thinks it’s time for a change!
About Hendrik Groen
Hendrik Groen might be old, but he for sure ain’t dead yet. Although his old age does come with physical challenges and difficulties, he’s determined to make the most of life. When he teams up with a couple of friends from his home – together they form the OMaNiDo-club (which in Dutch means “Oud-Maar-Niet-Dood” / “old-but-not-dead”- they not just hang out together and have a good time, but even start organizing monthly trips to all kinds of places. This results in the most hilarious adventures and it brings them all the desired distraction from being old and living in a care home.
Hendrik Groen on tv
The Hendrik Groen books are a mayor hit, not just in Holland, but all over the world. The books have been published in over 35 countries and the Dutch national television even produced a series (2 seasons) about Hendrik and his friends. A task that might seem to be quite impossible, since the humour of Hendrik and all his reflections we read about in his diary, could be hard to catch on tv. But they actually did an amazing job; the series is both as lovely and as heartbreaking as the books.
trailer of season 2 ‘Hendrik Groen – Zolang er leven is’
While I was reading the second diary called “Hendrik Groen – zolang er leven is”, my grandfather died. He was also living in a care home but unfortunately didn’t find such lovely friends at his new home as Hendrik did. His death made it a bit difficult for me to keep on reading Hendrik’s diary and I had to put it down for a little while. But watching the episodes of the Hendrik Groen tv series made me curious for the books all over again. Even though the tv series did reveal some of the bigger storylines, I can’t wait to pick up the book where I’d left it and find out about the rest of his adventures.
For more information about the diaries and novels of Hendrik Groen, have a look at the website of publisher Meulenhoff. For more info about the tv series, or to watch them online (in Dutch), click here.