Scribe have done a great job this year in bringing the work of Dutch author Wieringa to an English speaking audience with translations of his back catalogue by Sam Garrett. This is the British publication of his 2014 novella “Een Mooie Jonge Vrouvo”
This is the fourth of Wieringa’s novels I have read, enough evidence to strongly suggest that he is an important contemporary European writer with great depth and range in his published works. One of his novels republished by Scribe in 2016 “Joe Speedboat” became my reviewsrevues Book Of The Year. In “A Beautiful Young Wife” he exquisitely examines a relationship between a couple with a 14 year age gap. Edward has buried himself in his career as a microbiologist and has missed out on romance until the day he encounters Ruth cycling past the cafe he is in. The couple meet, fall in love, get married and plan a family. Edward finds himself having to face up to commitment, fatherhood, respecting another’s values and beliefs with varying success.
I found the whole thing compelling and beautifully written. There is an explicitness and openness that I hadn’t really picked up on the previous novels. This might actually upset a few readers but in the context of the relationships he depicts it is powerful and vibrant. No Bad Sex Award for Mr Wieringa, I’d hope.
Behind this tale of getting on with another is a study of pain. Ruth, a vegetarian, believes Edward causes pain in animals used as part of his research. Edward moves towards her point of view as they begin to increasingly inflict pain upon one another. This study of a relationship is raw and sparse as well as poetic and thought-provoking and is my second favourite of the four books I have read by this highly talented Dutch author.
A Beautiful Young Wife was published by Scribe in August 2016. Many thanks to the publishers for the review copy.