by Ray Kluun
Ray van de Kluundert (Ray Kluun) was a marketing man living in Amsterdam until his life changed with the discovery that his thirty-six-year-old wife had terminal cancer. After she died he travelled Australia in a camper van with his three-year-old daughter, Eva, and wrote LOVE LIFE (which sold half a million copies in Europe), and later, THE WIDOWER.
It is easy to see that LOVE LIFE is basically autobiographical, describing the harrowing years 1999-20001 during which his wife slipped away. It should be noted that it was first published in 2003, since when the knowledge and treatment of cancer has greatly advanced. Much has changed, but the
devastation within a young family, however brave, where cancer strikes, is invariably cruel and life-altering for everyone.
LOVE LIFE, brilliantly translated from the Dutch by Shaun Whiteside, keeps its Dutch flavour, but is universal in its appeal. It is written as a work of
fiction, and Ray Kluun is a highly professional writer. The story is of two young successful business people with a baby daughter whose lives are devastated
by this horrible disease. It is at times very funny and often satirical: inevitably it is also unbearably sad, but surprising and uplifting as well.
Cancer, the dreaded C word, the modern Black Death, strikes so randomly and is potentially so lethal that all mention of it is usually avoided in conversation. But this book, bravely and sincerely written, is a wonderful read and a testament of love.
Review by the Downs Book Group, Brighton.