Book report ‘Days of shame’ by Lieneke Dijkzeul
When healthcare entrepreneur Pieter Elting is kidnapped, he thinks it is the kidnappers’ money, but that turns out not to be the case. Why he was kidnapped is not clear to him, his kidnappers do not want to tell. He gets food and drink at set times, he is given a diaper, is not allowed to go to the toilet and remains cuffed on a bed. When he complains about this, he is informed that this is the daily routine. His kidnappers also drive Pieter out in a wheelchair and leave him alone, Elting gets soaked. One day he is allowed to take a shower, the jet is so hot that he gets burns. The reason for his kidnapping is slowly becoming clear, they want Pieter Elting to experience for one week what it is like to be at the mercy of complete strangers who do not care how you feel. John wants to bring Pieter back, but Emma wants to get even.
Book report content
- General information
- Summary Days of Shame
- Symbols and motifs
- Title statement Days of Shame
- Place, time and perspective
- About Lieneke Dijkzeul
- Title: Days of Shame
- Author: Lieneke Dijkzeul
- Date of birth: March 7, 1950
- First edition: 2016
- Publisher: Ambo / Anthos
- Cover illustration: Marry van Baar
- Number of pages: 254
- ISBN: 978 90 263 3715 4
Summary Days of Shame
Kidnapping and forced stay of Pieter Elting
Pieter Elting is a healthcare entrepreneur with a successful career, he owns a beautiful house, drives an expensive car and has just been divorced from his wife Monica. When Pieter is kidnapped, he initially thinks that the kidnappers are interested in his money, which turns out not to be the case.
Why he was kidnapped is not immediately clear to Elting, his kidnappers don’t want to tell him, he has to find out for himself. His forced stay is a room with a bed and a bedside table, he is handcuffed and left alone. He gets food and drink at set times, he is not allowed to go to the toilet and the first night he is forced to wet his pants. The next day he gets a diaper and can eat his breakfast. Then his kidnappers leave him alone again and Pieter tries to get his thoughts together. He is in a panic and no longer resembles the man who, according to his ex-wife, only thinks in terms of goals.
The daily routine
Pieter is unable to make a connection, he can only accept, although that goes against his nature. To give his mind something to do, he devises strategies to get free. The bad thing is that they don’t want to let him go to the toilet, he has to poop in his diaper and is only changed the next morning. When Elting indicates that he finds the course of events inhumane, he is told that it is the daily routine.
At one point the Man and the Woman drive him out in a wheelchair after lunch where they leave him to his own devices. After a while it gets cold and it also starts to rain. Elting gets soaked, he has the feeling that he has to do penance, although he does not know why. The Man and Woman are making excuses, they had supposedly forgotten him. When he returns to his room, he gets angry, starts to scold and rams his knee under the chin of the Woman who is knocked out for a moment. At this the Man hits him, first with his weapon, then he kicks Elting hard in the knee and knocks a tooth out of his mouth. When the Woman comes to again, Man and Woman disappear quickly. De Man says that he would not have wanted to use violence, Pieter Elting must be more careful from now on.
One day he is told to take a shower after breakfast. He is really looking forward to this, but when he is under the running shower they leave Pieter alone. The shower jet changes from stone cold to mercilessly hot and realizes that this was intentional. His rebellious words are waved away: “And no blisters, thank goodness, so all is well.” Elting, on the other hand, is only concerned with the terrible pain that leaves no room for anything else.
The reason for the kidnapping
So far the story has been told from the point of view of Elting, then it continues from the point of view of the kidnappers Emma and John, who turn out to be brother and sister and it also becomes clear why they kidnapped Elting: “We would let him go for one week. let experience what it is like to be at the mercy of complete strangers who don’t give a shit about how you feel. “
John begins to question whether what they are doing is right, he doesn’t want him to be out of control and wants to bring Elting back at night. His sister thinks he is weak, feels abandoned and because she had foreseen that her brother would not keep it up, she started keeping a log.
Still, Emma seemingly agrees that Elting will return at night, not to his house, but to Parkzicht, where he will be found by the morning shift the next morning. Emma is vengeful and has very different plans.
Emma lets Elting read the log from the moment their 54-year-old mother with dementia went to Parkzicht nursing home, they had transferred all the items that needed to be brought to the new room in advance. It was an experiment, a sort of probationary period, if it didn’t work, Mother would be transferred to the fourth floor. Emma had been taking care of their mother for the last few years and once she was in the nursing home, Emma wanted to pick up her life again and go back to school. Meanwhile, time slipped between her fingers, unable to concentrate on anything but her mother.
Emma and John had made a schedule to visit their mother. It soon became apparent that she was becoming increasingly forgetful, bothering people, and wandering at night. This meant that the fourth floor quickly came closer, a floor where the residents were locked up and were only allowed out under supervision. Once there, it quickly went downhill, she suffered a cerebral infarction and was allowed to rehabilitate in a rehabilitation center where she completely revived. She didn’t make any real progress, she forgot the instructions for the exercises. When she went back to Parkzicht the bruises on her arms came back and Emma noticed during her visit that her mother was standing outside in the pouring rain in a wheelchair. She had been forgotten: “Sometimes something escapes your attention.”
The mother contracted pneumonia after her adventure and Emma was with her mother almost all day from then on to give her all the drinks and pills she needed, she no longer trusted the nursing, but on suspicion siblings could not. take action. Their mother was losing weight more and more and since the nurses often did not have time to get her out of bed in the morning and help with washing and dressing, the daughter did it herself. Shortly afterwards, mother suffered second-degree burns, the nurses had put her in the shower and had forgotten her, because of her poor health she did not survive this. Emma then wanted to teach the nurse in charge a lesson, her brother disagreed with Emma. He was of the opinion that the system was wrong. This gave Emma the idea of kidnapping Elting, who was responsible for the policies of various nursing homes.
Elting is brought back to Parkzicht
After Pieter has read the log, Emma calls him to account, she does not accept his explanation and tells that she and her brother have decided to end his forced stay. In their view it is no use holding him any longer.
As agreed, they bring Elting to Parkzicht, Emma will put him down in front of the entrance with a wheelchair and all. The story ends at Parkzicht when an old lady looks out of the window in amazement as a man in a wheelchair is driven to the pond by a blonde woman and is tipped into the pond. She should warn someone, but who would believe her? The fourth floor would be closer than it already was, the hell no one wanted to talk about.
The people who play an important role in the book are the main character Pieter Elting and the kidnappers Emma and John who are brother and sister. In the log you see the mother through the eyes of daughter Emma and nurse Ilse has a supporting role.
Symbols and motifs
If he does not follow the rules, Pieter is beaten: “Violence is also common in your circles,” said the Man calmly. “That is the sad reality.”
Pieter Elting’s kidnappers want to let him experience what it is like to be treated as a person in need by bringing food at fixed times and putting him on a diaper so that they don’t have to take him to the toilet. He is also put under a shower that is too hot: “But pressure you understand? We cannot keep an eye on everyone all the time. Sometimes something escapes your attention.”
Pieter is helpless and completely at the mercy of his captors: “The shaking didn’t stop, only got worse. He was a toy, powered by a battery – he was a thing, dancing soulless in his chair. A plastic Santa Claus in a sleigh. at the entrance to the garden center. Ho-ho-ho! “
Title statement Days of Shame
Pieter is being held under the same degrading conditions as the mother of the kidnappers had to undergo. And on the last page, an old lady literally mentions the days of shame when she realizes afterwards that something had gone wrong, she went to eat when it was not yet time to eat and she left for her house, which was no longer her home.
Loneliness plays a major role in this psychological thriller by Lieneke Dijkzeul, while shame, humiliation, revenge and impotence are important themes. At the same time, the book is an indictment of politics that are cutting back on health care, causing the weaker in society to suffer.
Place, time and perspective
The book is set in a house in the Netherlands in a period of about a week around 2015, as Pieter Elting quickly taps a message on his phone. The story is told chronologically by the he-person in the first part, from his kidnapping to his stay with the kidnappers. When the book is half over, the perspective changes and the story is told by John and Emma, followed by the part of the log that takes place in the past, from the moment the mother was admitted to Parkzicht. This part is told by the I person. The last part is short and is narrated again by the he person. We see the end through an omniscient narrator and through the eyes of an old lady who often stands in front of the window, the same woman who also appears at the beginning of the book.
An easily readable and accessible book about a man who is torn from his own familiar environment and thrown back to himself. Some passages are a bit monotonous due to the thoughts of Pieter, so perhaps not a real psychological thriller, although you can expect that things will not end well with him. Still, the end of the book is surprising.
About Lieneke Dijkzeul
Lieneke Dijkzeul was born in Sneek, in 2020 she lives in Culemborg. After high school she went to study French, and Dijkzeul also worked as a career choice tester.
From 1987 her stories were published in youth magazines such as Okki, Taptoe, Bobo and Donald Duck. Her first children’s book that came out in 1990 was “Hou je tough!” In addition to children’s books, Lieneke Dijkzeul writes books for adults, literary thrillers including the Paul Vegter series.