Brijs, Stefan "The Angel Maker" (Dutch/Flemish: De engelenmaker) - 2005
A story about a doctor who clones lives a very private life with his children in a remote village in the German speaking part of Belgium. As the story unfolds, we get to know his secret.
We had chosen the book because there are only a few Dutch books translated into English. We had different feelings about the story. It was gripping, a thriller, thought-provoking.
We learned about Asperger syndrome, autism and how inmates of asylums used to be treated. And about cloning.
It was interesting to see the contrast between modern science and narrow-mindedness. The book was easy to read but had so many layers. There was a lot of symbolism, the trinity appeared again and again.
The author did a great research, a lot of information and facts seemed correct.
Some really enjoyed the book, others found it disturbing and depressing, even horrific, disgusting, took some of us way past our comfort zone. It is very gothic-like.
The small town mentality was disturbing. We found that they are the same everywhere.
There was nobody in the whole novel we could relate to, even the children were portrayed so inhuman, we could only feel empathy for the school teacher.
We like to say that "science is value free", that there can be no limits, it's discovery for the sake of discovery. What do we do with the discoveries, someone will use it who doesn't have the inhibitions. The quote "Medicine has allowed us to die more slowly." was mentioned.
You know from the first sentence, this is not going to end well. He leaves a lot of questions open.
I didn't care much for the title, in German, an angel maker is someone who performs an unsafe illegal abortion, However, as a subject, this was just as bad. I hadn't looked forward to the book and didn't care for it much. I also didn't like the (original) cover picture or the one of the artist. The former reminded me of a fried egg gone bad, the latter made me think the author was writing about himself.
Still, we had a very interesting discussion about a sensitive subject.
We discussed this in our book club in November 2012.
From the back cover:
"A literary page-turner about one man’s macabre ambition to create life - and secure immortality
The village of Wolfheim is a quiet little place until the geneticist Dr. Victor Hoppe returns after an absence of nearly twenty years. The doctor brings with him his infant children - three identical boys all sharing a disturbing disfigurement. He keeps them hidden away until Charlotte, the woman who is hired to care for them, begins to suspect that the triplets - and the good doctor - aren’t quite what they seem. As the villagers become increasingly suspicious, the story of Dr. Hoppe’s past begins to unfold, and the shocking secrets that he has been keeping are revealed. A chilling story that explores the ethical limits of science and religion, The Angel Maker is a haunting tale in the tradition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein. Brought to life by internationally bestselling author Stefan Brijs, this eerie tale promises to get under readers’ skin."