Of Birds and People
A tender, sensitively written novel in which revenge and love form an impressive alliance
Margriet de Moor’s stunning new novel is the story of a family in which the perspective flits between members, from a thoughtful father to his three sons, to a woman who loves all three sons and their father, and to Marie Lina, the true love of son Rinus, a wildlife manager at Schiphol, and their little son Olivier
Marie Lina’s entrance into the novel casts a black shadow over the family. Marie Lina’s mother, Louise Bergman, has been convicted of the murder of the elderly Bruno Mesdag. Louise is innocent. She cleaned his house and cared for him lovingly for years. The elderly Bruno, who had rescued a young man from drowning at an advanced age, was very fond of her.
Nevertheless, Louise confessed to the murder, almost believing that she had indeed committed it. How could that have happened? In recent years, the Netherlands has seen a remarkably high number of people convicted of crimes but acquitted after serving their sentence because their confessions turn out to be false. Under horrific pressure, ‘Louise B.’ made up everything her interrogators wanted to hear. ‘it slowly trickled into my eyes, hands and brain, heavy and gruesome, drip, drip, drip.’
Louise soon retracts her confession, but is still convicted. Her young daughter, Marie Lina, grows up largely without her mother and sets her sights on revenge. ‘You are revenge. You are malice. You have grown up with a special proclivity for ruthless violence.’
How will this end? Does Marie Lina succeed in taking revenge on the true culprit? Will Rinus be able to forgive her? How well does he really know her? These questions give Of Birds and People the tension of a hardboiled thriller.
Margriet de Moor keeps readers gripped through the sensitivity with which she reveals the thoughts and feelings of her characters, in language which is as delicate as it is tender. Even at horrific moments, her style remains loving and as light as a feather. De Moor puts us in the position of an eagle gliding above its prey. That is what literature is capable of.