Book Review: On The Bright Side – The New Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen *


We have reviewed On The Bright Side – The New Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen.  This book (which is already a bestseller in Netherlands) is the sequel to the 2014 International Bestselling Novel with also with the same name but when Hendrik was 83 1/4 years old.  Published by Michael Joseph, this book has been translated by Hester Velamns and written by the same anonymous Dutch author (whose identity is still a big mystery).    The first book has since been translated into over thirty languages and is currently being adapted for television and has gained a huge fan base.  Hence, we were really excited when we received the sequel as we we looking forward to reading it.  The book was a little bit heavy, 537g heavy to be exact and with about 416 pages in total it has lots of stories inside. We read this over a month during our lazy afternoons and the evening just before bedtime. We found the book easy to read as it was written similar to a diary, with interesting, funny and heartwarming details about the life of Hendrik, an 85 year old man.  In his diary, he shares about his friends, his care home and his everyday experience of life as a older man …..and trust us, you don’t have to be in your 80s to enjoy it and a lot of the stories and scenario are relatable.


What is the book about?

Chaos ensues as 85-year-old Hendrik Groen is determined to grow old with dignity: to rise up against the care home director. NO more bingo. NO more over- boiled vegetables. NO more health and safety.

85-year-old Hendrik Groen is fed up to his false teeth with coffee mornings and bingo. He dreams of escaping the confines of his care home and practising hairpin turns on his mobility scooter. Inspired by his fellow members of the recently formed Old-But-Not-Dead Club, he vows to put down his custard cream and commit to a spot of octogenarian anarchy.But the care home’s Director will not stand for drunken bar crawls, illicit fireworks and geriatric romance on her watch.

The Old-But-Not-Dead Club must stick together if they’re not to go gently into that good night. Things turn more serious, however, when rumours surface that the home is set for demolition. It’s up to Hendrik and the gang to stop it – or drop dead trying . . .



About the Author

Hendrik Groen is an alias, and Meulenhoff released the book as fiction. As Hendrik cryptically explained: “Nothing is a lie, but not everything is true.” In the media there has been a lot of speculation about who Hendrik Groen could be. Is he an actual octogenarian? Is he a famous Dutch writer? A well-known Dutch stand-up comedian? He remains anonymous, and the only thing that his publisher has revealed is that he is currently writing another diary.

He initially started his diaries on the literary website of Torpedo Magazine. He says about his work: ‘There’s not one sentence that’s a lie, but not every word is true.’ His first diary, the International Bestseller, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1⁄4 Years Old has been translated into over thirty languages and is being adapted for television. His second diary went straight to number 1 in the Netherlands. He is currently working on a standalone novel.

About the Translator
Hester Velamns is the author of two popular children’s novels and a translator specialising in modern fiction. Her translation of Renate Dorrenstein’s A Heart of Stone won the Vondel Prize for Translation and was Barnes & Nobele Discover Great New Writers selection. Her translation of Lulu Wang’s The Lily Theatre was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Rights have sold in 21 countries–with a number of deals made in pre-empts or at auction. At Frankfurt, Meulenhoff will host a Hendrik Groen Drinks Party, so all of the book’s international publishers can meet. The book has been on the Dutch bestseller list for 30 weeks and, as of press time, was at #27 (its highest spot to date). So far, 40,000 copies have sold in The Netherlands, and a deal for TV rights has been made with a Dutch production company. (The planned TV show is a comedy in the vein of The Office.)

She also believes the book’s subject matter is striking a chord with a diverse population. “We think that the topic [Groen] is writing about is a very important one nowadays,” she added. “The way we treat the elderly in our society says a lot about the values a country holds high.”


How much is the book sold for?

The Hardback copy of the book is retailing for £12.99, you can get your copy here.

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9780718186630
Number of pages: 432
Weight: 575 g
Dimensions: 222 x 144 x 38 mm

Read more: Think #Digital First Book Review


  1. December 28, 2017 / 9:34 pm

    This sounds like a good read. I’m guessing this was a Christmas present? I need a new book so i might add this to my wish list.

    • yeahlifestyle
      December 29, 2017 / 9:02 am

      This is a great Christmas present to give someone Kayleigh, as its really an interesting read

    • yeahlifestyle
      December 29, 2017 / 9:02 am

      Thats one of our resolutions too, to read more Kaz

  2. December 28, 2017 / 11:24 pm

    I think I’d really enjoy this. The old but not dead club sounds fab and it would be so interesting to get an insight to being this age. Thanks, Mich x

    • yeahlifestyle
      December 29, 2017 / 9:01 am

      Yes I am sure it would…all that wisdom and insight

  3. December 29, 2017 / 12:59 pm

    This sounds like such a lovely book. The premise reminds me slightly of the 100 Year Old Man Who Climber out the window. I’ll definitely be adding it to my reading list for this year!

    C x

  4. December 29, 2017 / 2:30 pm

    This sounds like a really good read! I really need to take more time to just sit with a good book and read!

    • yeahlifestyle
      December 29, 2017 / 6:36 pm

      Yes we agree with you, we need to read more too

  5. December 29, 2017 / 9:28 pm

    This book sounds like an interesting read, I think i’d like to check it out.

    • yeahlifestyle
      December 29, 2017 / 9:52 pm

      Yes please do Amanda

  6. hannah
    December 29, 2017 / 10:02 pm

    It sounds like a good book. I’ve never heard of the author before

  7. December 30, 2017 / 9:47 am

    It sounds like a very interesting plot and I’m glad you enjoyed the book, I love the fact the author is bring in key social issues to the forefront with this book

  8. December 30, 2017 / 1:51 pm

    Sounds like an interesting read, it was obviously very popular to have been translated into so many languages

  9. December 30, 2017 / 7:20 pm

    This sounds like a very interesting read and definitely something I would pop onto my To Be Read pile

    • yeahlifestyle
      December 30, 2017 / 10:21 pm

      Thats great to hear Mellissa

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