I wanted to use some of the space on this blog for recommending books I have read. This time it is the books from a man from the Netherlands, who writes about his experiences while caring for his wife with cancer. The book (love life) has been translated to many languages, and was also followed up by a book on how he managed after she died. It is not the typical tale of a man regretting not spending more time with her, but a tale about how hard life can be in reality. It is a book with many shades of grey, and you realize that life is often more complicated than what we want to think.
Introduction: When successful 30-something Stijn meets the free-spirited Carmen they fall madly in love and embark on a passionate affair. Soon, they also make it down the aisle and even though Carmen knows Stijn has an unfaithful streak, she decides to take him as he is. They work together in advertising in Amsterdam and when they have a baby girl; their happy lives couldn’t be more perfect together.
It’s the calm before the storm because next comes Carmen’s diagnosis of breast cancer. Though she tries to stay strong for her family, her mastectomy and chemotherapy puts a strain on Stijn who is unable to cope. Caring for his sick wife, he begins to lose his passion for her and eventually ends up falling in love with another woman, Roos whom he’s been seeing on the side.
Kluun’s wife Judith died from breast cancer at 36 years old (2000). He wanted to express his feelings for his late wife, so he used his experience to write his first novel Komt een vrouw bij de dokter (Love Life) 3 years later in 2003. He then wrote the sequel De weduwnaar (The widower) to talk about his move to Australia with their daughter after Judith died.
I have read both books and can recommend them both. I have not watched the movie, but I want to do that, too. I liked it so much since it was brutally honest. It is a tale from a man who has a hard time with his feelings, and therefore makes choices he wish he hadn`t done. It is still a tale of the bond of love, and how forgiveness and acceptance can make strong people do amazing things. It is even harder to read, since it is based on a true story. She was far too young when she died, and such an incredible woman. I sat with tears in my eyes several times, and had to read through it as fast as possible.