Book report: Linda Van Rijn ‘Zeezicht’
Zeezicht is a literary thriller by the Dutch writer Linda Van Rijn (Harmelen, 1974). The writer is best known for her holiday thrillers with titles such as Holiday Friends, Last Minute, Casa Ibiza and Off piste. In Zeezicht, Anouk, Jan and their children Timo and Lena are fully enjoying their well-deserved holiday. Anouk meets a man, Steef, with whom she starts an affair. Everything goes perfectly, until Anouk’s husband disappears and she is not sure if her affair is not the reason for his disappearance.
- Main characters
- Symbols and motifs
- Title explanation
- Structure and perspective / way of telling
- Time and place
- Original title: sea View
- Author: Linda Van Rijn
- First press: 2016
- Number of pages: 277
- ISBN: 978-94-606-8395-4
Anouk, Jan and their children Timo and Lena have always lived a luxurious life thanks to the furniture stores that Jan took over from his father. But the economic crisis has made things worse. So they decided to exchange their annual trip to Spain for a holiday on the Dutch coast.
Anouk hopes that the holiday is also a moment for Jan to enjoy his children. But also that together they can benefit somewhat from the conversations they had in the past. The holiday starts well immediately. Jan is relaxed, the children enjoy the sea and Anouk can enjoy the peace and quiet. In addition, Jan gets good news about a quote for furnishing a few restaurants, so that they do not have to worry about money again.
One evening Jan and Anouk meet Steef, the owner of the restaurant where they eat. It doesn’t just click between the two men, Anouk soon notices that she is attracted to him. The innocent flirting between Anouk and Steef quickly turns into a passionate relationship, which they both cannot have enough of in the beginning and every excuse is therefore good to be able to see each other.
During one of their conversations, Anouk discovers that Steef is not a saint. He had spent time for a bank robbery. He doesn’t seem to regret what he did at all, quite the contrary. He would do it again in a minute if he needed money.
Since Jan turns 40 during their vacation, Anouk seems like the ideal time to organize a surprise party. But due to her limited budget, she cannot find anyone who wants to organize the party. Steef suggests doing it in his restaurant. That way she immediately has a location and the catering.
During a visit from her sister-in-law Mieke and brother-in-law Geert, Anouk receives several messages from Steef that she does not answer. Every message gets scarier and sounds more threatening. When she sees Steef outside unabashedly, she finds it quite creepy. Yet she cannot stop the affair.
Jan’s party has been arranged fantastically. Everything is fine and everyone is having fun. Only Anouk fears that Steef will do something that will betray their affair. She’s right, Steef can’t help but get her attention and he wants her to leave the party to go with him. But Anouk refuses, which changes Steef’s behavior and makes him difficult. She makes it clear to him that she is still married and wants to end their affair. Steef runs away angrily.
When everyone leaves for home, they miss Jan. Nobody knows where he is, but nothing else is done. Together with her parents, parents-in-law and the children, Anouk returns to the holiday home, hoping to see Jan there. But he is also absent there and his voicemail is immediately saved. Anouk hopes that Jan has not seen her with Steef. But she is convinced that Jan would confront them. Could Steef have done something to Jan after their conversation?
The next day the police come by to find out what exactly happened. But it is only in the evening that they decide to make a case of it, as the chance that Jan will return of his own accord decreases. When Anouk goes to the police for her statement, she tells about her affair. She tells about the fight with Steef when she made it clear that she chose Jan. When she later looked for Steef, he was home according to his staff and around that time Jan could not be found either. The police make it clear to her that she made the right choice by telling them. But Steef thinks differently about this, he feels cheated by Anouk, who clearly thinks he has done something to Jan.
Not much later Anouk receives news from the police. A man had washed up and chances are that it was Jan. Anouk cannot believe it, but she has to process even more when she is told that he was probably murdered. The idea that it’s all her fault destroys her.
While she tries to process everything, the accountant of the case contacts her, despite the circumstances he urgently wants to speak to her. Anouk thinks it is suspicious that the accountant even wants to come to the coast to discuss something and goes to investigate herself. She discovers that Jan has taken out a loan to save the case. Chances are that Jan has not discussed this with anyone, even though it concerns a family capital. She therefore plans to check whether his sister Mieke is aware of this.
Mieke is suspicious by nature, so she might have discovered something during Jan’s vacation. Anouk does not waste any time and asks Mieke out, but she shows nothing until Anouk admits that she suspects Mieke of murder. Mieke admits that she knew everything about the money and thought that Jan had to pay. When she spoke to him about it, he attacked her instead of giving in. Her husband Geert had given Jan a blow that killed him. But Mieke has no regrets, on the contrary, now she can lead the case and prove that she is better than her brother.
Anouk cannot believe her ears and makes it clear that she will inform the police, but notices that Mieke will not give her that chance. So Anouk tries to run away, but her brother-in-law Geert meets her and starts to beat her with full force until she is unconscious.
When Anouk wakes up she is in hospital and Steef is sitting next to her. He happened to be in the neighborhood and had given Geert a few blows and notified the police. Mieke had also been arrested in the meantime. After the apologies about their behavior towards each other, they say goodbye and Anouk can see her children despite all the pain.
Anouk is thirty-six years old and a beautiful woman who works as a lawyer. She is married to Jan and the mother of seven-year-old Timo and four-year-old Lena.
He owns four furniture stores, which he took over from his father and in which his sister Mieke also works. Jan is a hard worker, tough and confident, but Anouk also knows his soft side.
He is thirty-nine years old and was born and raised in Bergen. He owns a restaurant in Bergen aan Zee. Steef is a handsome, confident man with a rough side.
Symbols and motifs
Anouk knows that because of their financial crisis, they should cancel their weekly family dinner in the restaurant. But she doesn’t want to give up because this is the only time when they are all together as a family and caring for each other.
Anouk misses the conversations she used to have with Jan. Now it is only about the business and usually in a tense atmosphere, which makes her feel that they are estranged from each other as a couple.
Anouk notices that Jan is doing his best, but she has difficulty with the conversations that are always about the case and the phone calls that he always wants to answer. And when she wants to talk about their relationship, he doesn’t feel like having a difficult conversation. But she wants Jan to know how she’s been feeling lately.
Despite the presence of her children and her husband, Anouk enjoys her relationship with Steef. She only thinks about him and wants to be in his presence as much as possible. But then again, she had always had a clear opinion about cheating. She thought it couldn’t be done, but now she does it herself without any effort. She has felt loved and desired again for a long time.
Anouk is afraid of Steef’s unpredictability. But on the other hand, she’s attracted to its rough side.
The title Zeezicht refers to the location where everything takes place, the Dutch coast and Steef’s restaurant with a view of the sea. The cover is a woman walking on the beach, which could be Anouk.
Money destroys everything.
Structure and perspective / way of telling
The story consists of 277 pages, which are divided into 15 chapters. The story represents Anouk’s point of view, which is written in third person.
Time and place
The story takes place in the present day in Bergen aan Zee.
Zeezicht is a summer thriller, set in the Netherlands. Expect just enough thrills to keep you entertained by a pool, without having to think much about the plot and characters. Linda van Rijn has a simple writing style and the characters don’t get much depth, so don’t expect high-quality literature.