From Publishers Weekly
Rowing is a sport in which the athletes on a given team are so tightly intertwined that, during optimal performance, total synchronization occurs. The mental bond that exists between good rowers is a powerful one, and van den Brink's tight, precise novel, set in 1939 as two young men undergo rigorous crew training on a river in Holland, offers a beautiful example of one such union. The book's narrator is Anton, a reserved teenager whose father works in the town's train depot. Anton's working-class parents do not understand or fully support his commitment to the sport, but nonetheless he throws himself into an arduous routine of rowing, running and lifting weights all in an effort to cement his relationship with David, his two-man craft's other rower. Van den Brink presents David as Anton's antithesis: self-assured and affluent. David is completely at ease with the sport's highbrow, country club culture, and although the author does not provide much character detail, it is plain there is a sort of hierarchy in the boat, with David as leader and Anton as disciple, obsessively striving to please. Van den Brink shuttles between intimate descriptions of the duo's grueling practice sessions and races, and Anton's reminiscences many years later when he revisits the abandoned boathouse. This is a sensitively written and finely tuned work.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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A novel of extraordinary subtlety from readers and writers alike have much to learn... This is a marvellous book, in every respect. -- Daily Mail, 2001
An impressively sustained evocation of a lost time and lost happiness... A daring first novel. -- Times Literary Supplement, 2001
Rarely have sport and literature combined so seamlessly to produce such an absorbing and satisfying novel as this small miracle of a book. -- The Guardian, 2001
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