A surprising novel about a double love affair
Tim Krabbé sure knows how to write a thrilling story. In novels like De grot (The Grotto, 1997), De vertraging (The Delay, 1994) and Het gouden ei (The Golden Egg, 1987) he used all his skills to create great suspense. No wonder Krabbé is one of the Netherlands’ most popular writers, and that his work has been translated into fifteen languages.
No surprise either, that no less than five of his novels have been made into films. Het gouden ei was even filmed twice – the first time in 1988 (Spoorloos [Vanished]), and again in 1993, when it was successfully remade for the U.S. market (The Vanishing). Krabbé himself wrote the scripts of Spoorloos, as well as the film version of De grot (2001).
Krabbé also writes autobiographical novels. Kathy’s dochter (Kathy’s Daughter, 2001), for instance, is about a lost love featuring Krabbé himself as the elderly writer he is today. The story begins with Krabbé receiving an email from Laura Westerdijk, informing him that her mother, Kathy Melsen, has died. Kathy was the woman with whom, when he was nineteen, he had a passionate – and, with hindsight, possibly ideal – relationship. Naturally, the message brings back memories, including the writer’s doubts about their dramatic parting thirtyseven years ago.
Krabbé gives his unpublished memoirs of Kathy to Laura, leading to a correspondence that develops into flirtation and, eventually, a meeting. It is love at first sight. Encountering his lost love – if only briefly – thus revives the old relationship and reflects Krabbé’s central theme, that true love exists only in death. This appears in Het gouden ei/Spoorloos/The Vanishing too, in which the protagonist’s search for his lost love leads to their reunion, but at a cost: like his loved one the protagonist is buried alive. In Kathy’s dochter the theme results in a poetic, though no less dramatic climax. Krabbé, however, gives Kathy (or is it Laura?) and himself a second chance by creating a happy ending. Because, just as love conquers death, art defeats reality