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Netherland    by Joseph O'Neill order for
by Joseph O'Neill
Order:  USA  Can
Pantheon, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Netherland is a mixed bag of places inhabited by Hans van de Broek Holland, the place of his birth; London where he meets his wife; and New York City, the newest love of his life.

Rachel, his wife, and Jake, his son, return to London after 9/11. She is too fearful to stay. Hans travels to London twice a month to keep his marriage going. In the meantime, he hooks up with another love of his life, cricket - he finds great numbers of emigrants playing and joins them. Not surprisingly, given the great distance between husband and wife, things are not working in his marriage. The physical distance is soon joined by marital distance. Hans flounders to get his life back on an even keel.

Author Joseph O'Neill keeps his protagonist on edge with flashbacks to his younger years. While his wife may be having an affair, he himself is having one with the City of New York. Van de Broek's take on New York is that of a man newly fallen in love he simply cannot get enough of the city. He meets a man who is determined to bring cricket to the New World, obsessed with the making of a cricket green to draw more and more fans to the stadium he dreams of building. Hans simply wants to play cricket and substitutes that for his family.

Returning to London, he finds it hard to leave New York behind. The background of the Big Apple is fascinating and obviously written by a man who really does love New York. He also loves cricket. Since I don't, I found those parts of the novel a little tedious. Netherland is the story of one family and how they were affected by 9/11. We were all affected, in many different ways. But we all muddle on, as does Hans van de Boerk.

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