On The Bright Side: The New Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 85 years old

On The Bright Side: The New Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 85 years old


Hendrik Groen is back with a new diary about growing old disgracefully.

Our Review

On The Bright Side: The New Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 85 Years Old by Hendrik Groen is the brilliant sequel to The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen: 83 ¼ years old.

On The Bright Side was by turns heart-breaking, hilarious and poignant. The book begins on the 31st December 2014 with Hendrik beginning a new diary. He begins by quoting a statistic stating that a man of 85 has an approximately 80% chance of still being alive in a years’ time so readers shouldn’t complain if it ends suddenly.

Once again, the diary is primarily focused on daily life in a care home, but potential readers should definitely not be put off by this. The diary is brilliantly funny.

“The most salient hallmark of life in an old age home may well be in the lack of duties or responsibilities. Everything is taken care of for you. There is no need for reflection. Life goes down as easily as custard without any lumps…

There are plenty of residents who are quite satisfied with this permanent all-inclusive holiday, but for myself and a number of my friends, the idleness of the care home existence does nothing for our day-to-day contentment.”

Hendrik and his friends have formed ‘The Old-But-Not-Dead Club’ to help alleviate the boredom of their daily life. The club consists of his best friend Evert who likes to speak his mind but always has Hendrik’s back, Antoine, Ria, Edward, Graeme and two new members.

Gaert has his own electric scooter and likes to join Hendrik for trips out. He is a man of few words. The other new member is Leonie who likes to talk and has taken a shine to Evert.

Grietje has been moved to the locked ward due to her rapidly progressing dementia but Hendrik still visits her because she remains happy and carefree. He observes that, Nobody would mind having dementia if they could be like her.

The club plans trips together and decide to regularly dine in restaurants featuring different cuisines from around the world.

One other thing they do is to continue their subtle rebellions against the director of the care home, particularly when rumours start to circulate that it might shut down.

The club members help each other to see that life can still be beautiful but when one of the members becomes terminally ill the reality of their age and the time they have left starts to sink in again.

“One of your life’s greatest challenges, Groen: to do everything in your power to give a beautiful friendship a suitably upbeat ending.”

On The Bright Side is sad and uplifting all at once. It is primarily a story about powerful friendships.

“We are close, without being overly nosy. Interested, warm, affectionate people with humour and compassion. At times sentimental, and at times a bit mad. Each one of us as old as the hills, but we try to ignore that fact as much as we can.”

Make this your next read you won’t regret it.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 5/5

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