Books

On the Bright Side

Hendrik Groen

85-year-old Hendrik Groen is fed up to his false teeth with coffee mornings and bingo.

He dreams of escaping the confines of his care home and practicing hairpin turns on his mobility scooter. Inspired by his fellow members of the recently formed Old-But-Not-Dead Club, he vows to put down his Custard Cream and commit to a spot of octogenarian anarchy.

But the care home's Director will not stand for drunken bar crawls, illicit fireworks and geriatric romance on her watch. The Old-But-Not-Dead Club must stick together if they're not to go gently into that good night. Things turn more serious, however, when rumours surface that the home is set for demolition. It's up to Hendrik and the gang to stop it - or drop dead trying . . .

He may be the wrong side of 85, but Hendrik Groen has no intention of slowing up - or going down without a fight.

Praise for Hendrik Groen

'A story with a great deal of heart, it pulled me in with its self-deprecating humour, finely drawn characters and important themes. Anyone who hopes to grow old with dignity will have much to reflect on' Graeme Simsion

'There are many laughs in this book but it's so much more than just a comedy. It's a story about how friendship, selflessness and dignity lie at the heart of the human experience. When I'm an old man, I want to be Hendrik Groen' John Boyne

'A funny but also touching diary praised for its wit and realism' BBC Radio 4 Front Row

'I laughed until I cried and then laughed and cried some more' David Suchet

'Thoughtful, anxious and gruff... Laced with humour' The Best New Fiction Mail on Sunday

'Amusing [and] wickedly accurate ... I was constantly put in mind of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, another comi-tragedy concerning the tyranny of institutions of the unwanted. Enjoy Groen's light touch but do not be fooled by it. We live in an ageing society. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen is a handbook of resistance for our time' ***** FIVE STARS Sunday Express

'Highly entertaining ... a delightful and touching saga of one man's way of coping with old age ... we may assume that Hendrik Groen is a character of fiction. But it is a fiction so closely based on the observation of real life that it is utterly convincing' Daily Express

'A joy to read, as much concerned with friendship and dignity as it is with the debilitating effects of aging ... An entertaining and uplifting story of a man in the winter of his days, stoic in the face of bureaucratic nonsense and an unabashed need to wear a nappy. Imagined or not, this is the diary of someone who wants nothing more than to be allowed see out his days with dignity and respect. It's not too much to ask, really, is it?' John Boyne Irish Times

'Full of off-beat charm and quirky characters' Cathy Rentzenbrink, Stylist

'Hendrik pens an exposé of his care home, sets up the Old-But-Not-Dead club and relishes the arrival of a new female resident. This geriatric Adrian Mole made me laugh and think. Terrific' Fanny Blake, Woman and Home

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83¼ Years Old

Hendrik Groen (and others)

** THE INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON **

'There are many laughs in this book but it's so much more than just a comedy. It's a story about how friendship, selflessness and dignity lie at the heart of the human experience. When I'm an old man, I want to be Hendrik Groen' John Boyne, author of international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

***

'Another year and I still don't like old people. Me? I am 83 years old.'

Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn't planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing and he had to visit his doctor more than he'd like. Technically speaking he is ... elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums?

Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs - not least his new endeavour the anarchic Old-But-Not Dead Club. And when Eefje moves in - the woman Hendrik has always longed for - he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what's left of his hair and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender and devastating consequences.

The indomitable Hendrik Groen - Holland's unlikeliest hero - has become a cultural phenomenon in his native Netherlands and now he and his famously anonymous creator are conquering the globe. A major Dutch bestseller, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen will not only delight older readers with its wit and relevance, but will charm and inspire those who have years to go before their own expiry date.

***
Praise for The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old

'A story with a great deal of heart, it pulled me in with its self-deprecating humour, finely drawn characters and important themes. Anyone who hopes to grow old with dignity will have much to reflect on' Graeme Simsion

'There are many laughs in this book but it's so much more than just a comedy. It's a story about how friendship, selflessness and dignity lie at the heart of the human experience. When I'm an old man, I want to be Hendrik Groen' John Boyne

'A funny but also touching diary praised for its wit and realism' BBC Radio 4 Front Row

'I laughed until I cried and then laughed and cried some more' David Suchet

'Thoughtful, anxious and gruff... Laced with humour' The Best New Fiction Mail on Sunday

'Amusing [and] wickedly accurate ... I was constantly put in mind of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, another comi-tragedy concerning the tyranny of institutions of the unwanted. Enjoy Groen's light touch but do not be fooled by it. We live in an ageing society. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen is a handbook of resistance for our time' ***** FIVE STARS Sunday Express

'Highly entertaining ... a delightful and touching saga of one man's way of coping with old age ... we may assume that Hendrik Groen is a character of fiction. But it is a fiction so closely based on the observation of real life that it is utterly convincing' Daily Express

'A joy to read, as much concerned with friendship and dignity as it is with the debilitating effects of aging ... An entertaining and uplifting story of a man in the winter of his days, stoic in the face of bureaucratic nonsense and an unabashed need to wear a nappy. Imagined or not, this is the diary of someone who wants nothing more than to be allowed see out his days with dignity and respect. It's not too much to ask, really, is it?' John Boyne Irish Times

'Full of off-beat charm and quirky characters' Cathy Rentzenbrink, Stylist

'Hendrik pens an exposé of his care home, sets up the Old-But-Not-Dead club and relishes the arrival of a new female resident. This geriatric Adrian Mole made me laugh and think. Terrific' Fanny Blake, Woman and Home

Biography

Hendrik Groen started his diaries on the literary website of Torpedo magazine. His first diary The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old has been translated into over thirty languages and On The Bright Side went straight to number 1 in its native Netherlands.

Hester Velmans is the author of two popular children's novels and a translator specializing in modern fiction. Her translation of Renate Dorrestein's A Heart of Stone won the Vondel Prize for Translation and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her translation of Lulu Wang's The Lily Theater was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her children's book Isabel of the Whales now has a sibling: the second in the Whales Series, Jessaloup's Song (age 10 and up).