The Second Man
The history of a decline: The long-awaited epic novel by Doeschka Meijsing
What happens to someone of modest means who comes into a substantial inheritance? In De tweede man poet and classics teacher Robert Martin finds himself caught up in a series of adventures, after his unknown brother, Alexander – twenty years his senior – leaves him a fortune.
It is a stone he inherits rather than the money that causes the trouble and forces Martin to give up his peaceful, scraping existence to solve its secret message and clarify the mysterious connection with his brother. Who was he and what message does the stone contain? What does it have to do with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1940s and the life of Hefaistion, the beloved of Alexander the Great? What does it mean to be the second man, to live in the shadow of a great figure?
These are just a few of the many questions that rivet the reader of De tweede man from the first page to the last. Meijsing seduces you with a fascinating story that is at once thrilling and erudite. Martin becomes entwined in academic intrigues, which take him to the universities of Paris, Rome and Oxford. The various archaeological institutes treat the solving of the stone’s riddle as a prestigious problem. The plot thickens when the English archaeologist, Isaac, not only steals the stone, but also takes off with Anna, Martin’s girlfriend. Isaac then proceeds to write the book that Robert was intending, although not about Alexander and Hefaistion, but the relationship between two other fraternal figures: Jesus and James.
Meijsing effortlessly brings past and present together, mirroring centuries of history in the personal drama of her hero. De tweede man is an ambitious novel, but the author’s compositional genius and peerless imagination ensure success.