Maarten Asscher / Maarten Asscher – A House in England

Maarten Asscher – A House in England

Maarten Asscher – A House in England

Rights sold

  • Luchterhand (Germany, by Agentur Petra Eggers)


Read our sample translation of A House in England


About the book

To cure his persistent insomnia, the narrator of A House in England imagines nocturnal walks through the house of his grandparents in a quiet London suburb. In that house, in Kew, near the famed botanic gardens, he used to spend his yearly summer holidays in the 1960s as a boy, being the eldest grandson. His grandparents were always bickering over trifles in their nevertheless indestructible marriage. Although of Jewish descent, they miraculously survived persecution in Nazi-occupied Holland, together with their three children. After the war, in 1947, they suddenly moved to England.

During his nightly walks, the rooms, the paintings, the beautiful garden and his grandparents come alive. But brooding over his memories at night and rummaging through family papers by day, the narrator gradually realises that his grandparents’ survival of the war in Holland came at a price. This is a sad element in the whole story, a proverbial snake in the paradise.

Excerpt from A House in England:

‘As a child, what baffled me was how my grandparents had made it through the war with their three children. All five of them had been interned in “transit camp” Westerbork. No one came back from there alive, did they? What also puzzled me was why Grandma Roosje and Oa had left Holland for good only after the war. Why not simply stay, once the danger had passed? Or, if one truly wanted to leave, why not move to England already in the late 1930s, as soon as you saw that things were going all wrong?’


‘In our bookcase at home is a photo book entitled The Yellow Star, showing the worst of the worst. How often, as a boy of eight or ten, when my parents were gone, did I leaf through it in secret. Gruesome, incomprehensible, fascinating. My grandparents and their three children – which means my father, too – were they actually there? My father has told me that they were at Westerbork, but I never get to hear much more than that.’

About the author

With seventeen books to his name, MAARTEN ASSCHER (b. 1957) is a prolific writer of fiction and non-fiction and a translator of poetry. An earlier novel and various of his novellas have been translated into German. A collection of his essays has appeared in the US. A House in England is his first book with De Bezige Bij.

© Sacha de Boer

Additional book information

  • Novel
  • ISBN: 9789403182100
  • Number of pages: 256
  • World rights: De Bezige Bij
  • Price: €21,99
  • English sample available