SinC25: Saskia Noort, #3 post of “moderate” challenge

Having completed the Sisters in Crime book bloggers’ easy challenge, I am now embarking on the next step, the:

Moderate challenge: write five blog posts about works of crime fiction by women authors. For each, mention another woman author who writes in a similar vein.

Two books by my third choice, Dutch author Saskia Noort, have been translated and published in English, by the marvellous Bitter Lemon Press.

Back to the Coast (2009), translated by Laura Vrooman, is an excellent little thriller, an easy read that can be raced through in a couple of hours and that leaves a haunting impression – or as the publisher describes it: “relentless suspense writing: a description of Maria’s hellish descent into a world of induced paranoia.” My full review is at Euro Crime.

The Dinner Club (2007), translated by Paul Vincent, is described by the publisher as “a subversive concoction of greed, lust, and violence set in genteel suburbia. Imagine Desperate Housewives scripted by Patricia Highsmith. That’s The Dinner Club.” See my review at Euro Crime.

These novels are “standalones” but share common themes concerning society’s judgements of women who do not conform to the expected norm of the moment. Maria in Back to the Coast is a rock musician who is punished for aborting her third pregnancy. She is viewed as a feckless and irresponsible person who is not capable of making rational decisions for herself, to the extent that the police and others decide she is “not worth helping” – and she is even punished further for acts of cruelty and violence against her by those who society has charged with helping. The novel describes the consequences of the only action left to Maria, and of her resilience in the face of escalating danger.

The Dinner Club (written before BttC but read by me afterwards) is very different, in its story of aspirational professional couples, mothers jockeying for supremacy in the playground and on the domestic front, fathers earning oodles of money to keep their families in luxury, all the time while everyone is very, very drunk. Nevertheless, there are certainly similarities between the two novels, in the attempt by Karen to break away from the imposed rules of the group, a decision that has increasingly negative consequences. Another theme is town vs country: in both books the countryside is initially presented as a haven, but in fact hides a multitude of sins and threats.

Another woman author who writes in similar vein? The comparison that leaps to mind for The Dinner Club is Thursday Night Widows by Claudia Pinerio, an Argentinian novel presenting a strong element of domestic satire and also published by Bitter Lemon. I’d say that The Dinner Club is the darker of the two, though.

Back to the Coast is a little harder to match precisely, but it shares some similarities with a book by another Dutch author, The Reunion by Simone van der Vlugt.

Saskia Noort has written several other novels. Apparently the English rights of one of them, New Neighbours (2006) have been sold (Wikipedia), but I know no further details.

The Sisters in Crime book bloggers’ challenge (SinC25) (At the blog of Barbara Fister, the originator).
All Barbara’s posts and round-ups of contributions to the SinC25 challenge.
All my contributions to this challenge.

6 thoughts on “SinC25: Saskia Noort, #3 post of “moderate” challenge

  1. A bit of information on Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder. It’s well-written, one woman protagonist, one p.o.v. (whew!) and it moves into an interesting, unusual plot. A scientist is sent to find a co-worker in the Amazin forest. Lots of learning experiences and revelations along the way.

  2. “A subversive concoction of greed, lust, and violence set in genteel suburbia”. This reminded me of my time running the dental surgery in New Malden. 😉

  3. I am beginning to think I live in the wrong suburb…about the only lust around here is for what’s in other people’s hard rubbish…come to think of it we do get violence over the hard rubbish too (I don’t know if that term travels…once a year we are allowed to put out large items like furniture onto kerbside and Council will collect for free instead of you having to take it to the tip yourself and pay…it’s going on at the moment and what happens is Council say you have to have the rubbish out by Sunday night of a given week in time for collection “starting Monday” but the collection never happens until very late in the week and in the interim all the scavengers and greenies pilfer usable items from other people’s hard rubbish piles…personally I think this is great as it means stuff doesn’t end up in landfill and someone will use it but I’ve seen fights break out over who has the right to scavenge a particular item)

    I’ve gone off track right?

    Thanks as always for the suggestions…I like the sound of both the Noort books…though I can’t really imagine Patricia Highsmith directing Desperate Housewives

    • Funny Bernadette, I was spending time with one of your compatriots this am who was telling me how bad rubbish collections are in the UK compared with Oz. Mind you, she’s from Queensland….Anyway, don’t get me on our local rubbish collections, I could fill the blog with stories and moans…..

  4. Pingback: SinC25: Progress so far and preparing for the ascent | Petrona

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