The Night Boat
Follow-up to highly successful novel: new stories from the island of Vlieland
In her successful novel Eilandgasten (Island Guests), Vonne van der Meer had her characters arriving at a holiday home on the Dutch island of Vlieland, where their stories were set: six different stories, but all with a common location. The idea of telling the stories of a cottage’s guests is too good to be exhausted after just one book. After all, an island is an island; you cannot leave just like that.
Most of the tenants are new, one or two are familiar from the first book. The connecting factor is, again, the cleaning lady, a character who shows great concern for everything to do with the cottage and its temporary residents. The guest book and everything written in it again forms an important link between the stories, because in it the guests read about each other. The stay in Duinroos must evoke something in the guests from which a story about human relationships can emerge. All the stories move towards a climax, a catharsis, new insight, but something dramatic has to occur as well. Vonne van der Meer excels at directing the subtle and balanced narration of the drama. Her style is clear but evocative. The vivid details bring the world of the stories to life.
The formula of Eilandgasten has been used again in De avondboot. ‘It was as if a new leaf had been turned within him, a far too closely written page full of crossings-out, additions, angry scrawl and ink blots.’ In some ways the book can be seen as a sequel, in others it is an entirely new novel, with fresh issues and fresh characters. With new conflicts and reconciliations, new insight and chastening.