2010 2011 Books in Translation Chick Lit Mystery

Rendezvous – Esther Verhoef

Rendezvous Translated from the Dutch by Alexander Smith

Five words from the blurb: mother, life, unravels, tension, twists

Iris is holding A Month of Dutch Literature on her blog. I wanted to join in, but had nothing to hand. I then spotted this book in a little independent book shop and was drawn towards the following sentence in the blurb:

Rendezvous is an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish and an extremely powerful story about how dangerous getting what you want can be.

That is a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a gripping read with some degree of emotional tension throughout.

The book begins with Simone, a young mother, being arrested. Over the course of the book we see how she goes from being a caring wife and mother, to being at risk of losing everything.

Simone and her family move from Holland to a rural village in the south of France. They have to cope with living in the confines of a caravan whilst their house is being renovated, but also learn the numerous differences between their culture and French etiquette.

Simone’s character is very well developed and I had a great deal of sympathy for her, despite her flaws.

Unbelievable how I was able to lie to everyone, how naturally and easily it came to me. All my life I’ve hated that so intensely, that scheming, lying and deceit. Women who cheat on their husbands with their best friends, men who say they have to work late and are actually carrying on with their secretaries – there’s a reason those kinds of clichés are clichés; they’re far too commonplace, they seem to make the world go round.

This book could almost be described as chick-lit, but the mystery surrounding Simone’s imprisonment also gives it a crime/thriller edge.

I found the entire book to be very entertaining. It isn’t groundbreaking or particularly original, but it is perfect for when you need to read something a bit lighter.


16 replies on “Rendezvous – Esther Verhoef”

Great that you picked up a book by a Dutch writer! I’ve read a few books by Esther Verhoef, but not this one. This book is an example of the in my eyes quite ridiculous genre “literary thriller”:

You are a Dutch reader of quality books only (of course!) so you don’t read thrillers, do you? No worries, we now have “literary thrillers” so you can pretend you are reading a good book and still get the thrill of a nice plot!

I’m sarcastic but I don’t believe much in those “literary thrillers”. As you confirm (and I suspected), it’s almost chick-lit. Oh no!! We Dutch better invent the “literary chick-lit”! 🙂

Judith, I didn’t realise that this is labelled as a literary thriller – I can’t see it at all. I could almost see the literary chick lit tag, but I don’t think it quite qualifies for that either. It is very well written, but I don’t think it has the underlying symbolism and depth I’d expect from something with the “literary” label.

I am looking forward to reading more Dutch authors though, hopefully I’ll squeeze another one in before the end of the month. 🙂

I agree with your take on this book, even alluding to the chick lit similarities! Perhaps i did not enjoy it as much as you, because it was all a bit one-dimensional. I had read her previous translated novel, Close Up, a romantic thriller (pretty up front, actually!) which I think was better and more multi-dimensional, if you are interested in reading more by this author (my reviews of both books are at Euro Crime if you want to check them out).

Another Dutch author whom I think is v good is Simone van der Vlugt, I have read two by her, Reunion and Shadow Sister, both excellent thrillers with women protagonists, not at all chick lit!

Perhaps my favourite Dutch author, though, is Saskia Noort, published by Bitter Lemon – Back to the Coast and The Dinner Club (both “standalones”). Again my reviews are at Euro Crime if you want to follow up. These are really good little thrillers, again with female protagonists (and very short!).

Maxine, I read this book on a train, a time when I can’t normally cope with complicated plots or slower paced writing, so this book was perfect for that situation. I agree that many of the characters were a bit one-dimensional, but I thought Simone was well fleshed out and I enjoyed reading about her situation. I will try more books by this author, so thanks for the Close Up recommendation.

The other books all sound interesting. *heads off to check out your reviews* Thanks for the recommendations!

This is another one of the books I read on vacation then promptly misplaced. I agree about the chick-lit thing — I had been anticipating this one and was really disappointed. I liked the way she worked backward in the story so you were hooked right away wondering what happened, but otherwise I just wasn’t that impressed. You gave it more stars than I would have!


Nancy, Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one. I agree that it isn’t a perfect book, but I did find it very entertaining. There was no point when I got bored and I thought the writing flowed very well. I thought it was perfect light entertainment and I will recommend it to a lot of people, but perhaps I wouldn’t have been so impressed if I read it in the comfort of my own home?

Jackie – I spotted this one in Daunts Books a few weeks ago and it appealed so I was really pleased when I saw you had read it. It sounds a bit lighter than I was thinking but I’m still keen to try it out. I’m wondering if I was seduced by that cover!

Tracey, Well the cover grabbed my attention – especially the blurb on the back cover. I hope you enjoy it is you decide to give it a try.

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