Sunday, 3 June 2018

We And Me by Saskia De Coster

We And Me by Saskia De Coster
First published in Dutch in the Netherlands as Wij En Ik by Prometheus in 2013. English language translation by Nancy Forest-Flier published by World Editions in 2016.

Featured in WorldReads: Belgium

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £11.87 (PB)
Wordery : from £11.21 (PB)
Waterstones : from £11.99 (PB)
Amazon : from $5.31 / £0.01 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

On a private estate near the top of a mountain lives the Vandersanden family. Neurotic, aristocratic Mieke grooms her carpets while keeping a close eye on her family and her neighbours. Her husband, the self-made man Stefaan, is building up a career in a pharmaceutical company which is threatened by scandal. Daughter Sarah, overprotected by her parents and curious for the real life, is finding her own path; like a contemporary Madame Bovary or an Anna Karenina, she longs for freedom and individuality. But will she find an escape from the claustrophobic family dramas and secrets that surround her?

I had been looking forward to this highly praised Flemish novel, especially after reading glowing reviews such as the one on Turn Around. However, while I liked the writing style and sense of era and place that De Coster evokes, I feel at the end of 400-plus pages that I managed to completely miss the point. I struggled to empathise with the rich central family because their repression and lack of communication with each other meant that I was kept at arm's length too. I understand that the disintegration of this family was a tragedy for them, but I couldn't care enough about any of the individual characters to actually become invested in their lives. The occasional narrative voice switch from third person to a first person 'we' was baffling and I never did figure out who that 'we' was meant to be.

I am sure I will be in a minority with this less than enthusiastic review and perhaps I just picked the wrong time for me to engage with We And Me.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Saskia De Coster / Contemporary fiction / Books from Belgium


  1. It sounded promising. Sorry to hear it was disappointing. It's difficult for me to stick with a book when I'm not engaged with the characters.

    1. Same here. I know other readers have raved about We And Me, but it just wasn't an ideal read for me.