The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker: Review

The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker

The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker


The Detour is Gerbrand Bakker’s latest novel, following his award-winning debut, The Twin from Vintage books.




Emilie is in desperate need to escape from it all. She flees her Dutch home, leaving behind her husband, career, her studies and the bitter notes from the young student she had an affair with. She finds herself renting a country cottage in rural Wales, surrounded by wildlife, with Mount Snowdon on the horizon.


To begin with, she keeps herself isolated but as she slowly ventures into the surrounding areas, she comes across the local residents. Then, one day, a young man stumbles into her garden and her plan to quietly live alone changes. But as her husband sets about hunting her down, he discovers the secret that could explain her recent change in character.


The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker review


The blurb for this book gives the impression that it is a twisting thriller, but it’s really far more delicate than that. To begin with, you are unsure if the main character of Emilie is a victim or predator. As the story slowly unfolds, this uncertainty is continually played with.


Although not a read for the lovers of action, the slow pacing and in-depth descriptions leave you truly caring for Emilie. However, you are not sure she really deserves it. The ending is a fabulous combination of tension, sadness and regret that makes it intensely moving. The Detour is an incredibly tender book, capturing new and old relationships in simple yet beautiful detail.


Since reviewing The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker it has gone on to win The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. It was also shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Prize.


If you like The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker you’ll love The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka.



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