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The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen

Narrated by: Derek Jacobi
Length: 11 hrs and 53 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (329 ratings)
Regular price: $28.50
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Publisher's Summary

For fans of A Man Called Ove comes a funny, big-hearted tale about an old man who is young at heart.

Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn't planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing, and he has to visit his doctor more than he'd like. Technically speaking he is...elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums?

Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs - not least his new endeavor, the anarchic Old-but-Not-Dead Club. And when Eefje moves in - the woman Hendrik has always longed for - he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what's left of his hair, and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender, and devastating consequences.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen will not only delight older listeners with its wit and relevance but charm and inspire those who have years to go before their own expiry dates.

©2017 Hester Velmans (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Funny and frank - a story with a great deal of heart." (Graeme Simsion, New York Times best-selling author of The Rosie Project)

"A story about how friendship, selflessness and dignity lie at the heart of the human experience. When I'm an old man, I want to be Hendrik Groen." (John Boyne, internationally best-selling author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas)

"The humble diary of a gentleman who is fighting depression in the twilight of his life is masterfully brought to life by Derek Jacobi's outstanding narration. It's a treat to listen to Jacobi's rich voice and musical intonation... A delightful and richly rewarding listening experience." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Art Guzman
  • San Marcos, TX United States
  • 11-25-18

Not “A Man Called Ove”

Nice book. I enjoyed listening to it as I got an insight of what many elderly go through. Sad and funny at times. A relaxing read, but did not stir me like “A Man Called Ove.”

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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narration an a+

the narration of this book realky brings it to life. i think the readable version wouldnt have been as enjoyable. excellent!

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great story, uneven volume somewhat detracting.

I read a few reviews commenting that this book is not as good as A Man Called Ove. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen is nothing like the first book, so comparisons are unfair. The Ove book is related in the third person, as by an outside narrator. The Secret Diary is told in first person, in (obviously) diary form, and is equally excellent. In Ove, we watch the personal evolution of a sad old man, set in his ways and solitary by nature, into a community minded, open hearted and more open minded man—happier, with new purpose. In The Secret Diary, Hendrik is already open minded and kind. His personal progress is of a different sort but is valuable and interesting nonetheless. I liked both books very much. But with The Secret Diary’s Audible version, there is one problem. I love Derek Jacobi as an actor. His narration was one of the draws that prompted me to buy the audio version. Unfortunately, though Jacobi’s interpretation of Hendrik is perfect, charming and fun, his lack of volume control hurt my ears. Jacobi must have at times had his mouth right up against the microphone, and at other times must have leaned far away from it. Or else he was prone to let his voice drift into quiet mode and then suddenly ramp it up by a hundred decibles. I wonder if the sound engineer was paying attention during this recording. The wide variations in volume aren’t so hard to take if the story is being listened to over speakers in a room. But over earbuds (which I use while walking outdoors) the sudden surges in volume were painful. I needed to manually adjust the volume control of my earbuds far too frequently. I gave the story itself five stars, but had to cut a star off the narration and the overall rating, only because of the volume fluctuations. I still highly recommend this book, with the caveat that buyers with sensitive ears should be prepared for the sharp and sudden changes in the narrator’s volume.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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One of the most poignant listens ever

As one whose own father is living out his days in a “rest home”, this book struck many chords with me. When I first started listening I wondered how a book with this story line could possible be stretched into as many hours as was listed. Was I ever in for a surprise! I found myself wishing the protagonist had not limited himself to a year’s worth of diary writing! I was drawn in, waiting for the next developments, cheering the club on. The performance was excellent, one of the best I have ever listened to. I would highly recommend this book, particularly in audio form.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Oddly Uplifting

A diary written by an old man living in a nursing home hardly sounds enticing but you will miss a very good book if you follow that line of thought. It is at times so funny and yes, sometimes a little sad but delightful all the way through. Hendrik Groen is my hero.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Hendrik hits the nail on the head!

This audio book made me laugh (the most), sigh (it's poignant), shed a tear (life is sad too) and smile to myself a lot!
It's about being old, lonely, scared, brave and determined. The characters are real!! If you are familiar with old folks, retirement homes and hoping you never need one, this book is a guide for it all. It tells the gritty tough stuff and the lovely stuff and it's put together in a way that makes one realize life is about all of it and it's not all one or the other. Wonderful!!

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Humorous

I purchased this on a whim and was laughing out loud. Even the everyday can be turned into something funny.

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Who knew half a dozen elderly folk can have so much fun

Oh my gosh! This is such a cute read, especially with the narrator’s voices. This is a year in the life of a feisty Dutch octogenarian who lives in an old folks home in Amsterdam and has decide to keep a day to day diary on the comings and goings of the place. There is such a sense of humor, a bit of sadness, wonderment. He is part of a small group who demand their elderly rights and create fun disorganization for the staff. A must read!

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Humorous Perspective on Aging

Entertaining but insightful commentary on the lives of the elderly living in a senior facility. Groen skillfully balances the sadness of declining health and functioning with the joys of friendship and adventure.

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  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 02-12-19

Lackluster Ramblings of Old Man

Though I may seem heartless in my review, I'm not. I loved A Man Called Ove, and was prepared to love this book, too. But the story took no shape, didn't endear the listener to Hendrik Groen, or the other characters. No way could I listen for nearly twelve hours.