Attempts to Make Something of Life. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old

Original title: Pogingen iets van het leven te maken

Author: Groen, Hendrik

Publication Date:

June 2014



Original language and publisher

Dutch | Meulenhoff

Territories Handled

Worldwide excl. Dutch

Territories Sold

English (USA) (Grand Central, at auction, NA)
Italy (Longanesi, pre-empt)
Germany (Piper, pre-empt)
Spanish (Spain) (rights reverted)
France (Presses de la Cité, pre-empt)
Catalan (rights reverted)
Greece (Patakis)
English (UK & BC excl Can) (Michael Joseph/Penguin Randomhouse UK, at auction)
Sweden (rights reverted)
South Korea (rights reverted)
Finland (rights reverted)
Brazil (rights reverted)
Portugal (rights reverted)
Serbia (rights reverted)
Poland (rights reverted)
Lithuania (rights reverted)
Slovenia (Mladinska Knjiga, at auction)
Norway (rights reverted)
Iceland (rights reverted)
Hungary (rights reverted)
Turkey (rights reverted)
China (rights reverted)
Estonia (Eesti Raamat)
Denmark (People's Press, in a pre-empt)
Bulgaria (rights reverted)
Egypt (rights reverted)
Romania (Art, at auction)
Taiwan (Commonwealth Publishing Co.)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (rights reverted)
Czech Republic (XYZ-Albatros, at auction, in a two-book deal)
Slovakia (rights reverted)
Croatia (rights reverted)
Ukraine (rights reverted)
North Macedonia (rights reverted)
Japan (Shueisha, in a three-way auction)
Russia (Ast/Corpus)
Vietnam (Tre Publishing)


Literary Fiction

Foreign Covers

Tre Publishing

Attempts to Make Something of Life. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old

Original title: Pogingen iets van het leven te maken

Author: Groen, Hendrik


Delightful and moving […]. Between hilarious quips about life, Hendrik regales readers […]. Engaging and hilarious, Hendrik’s diary gives a dignity and respect to the elderly often overlooked in popular culture, providing readers a look into the importance of friendship and the realities of the senior care system in modern society. Publishers Weekly

Difficult moments are interspersed with Groen’s biting wit and comic take on aging […] Groen’s diary is a page-turning delight for adult readers of any age and locale. — Booklist

Even as we rejoice with Hendrik, he doesn’t let us forget that he and his friends are constantly threatened with and sidelined by ailments both small and serious. The way they band together and support each other is an incredible picture of friendship, and it’s something we could all stand to emulate, no matter where we are in our lives. Bookpage

A delightful and touching saga of one man’s way of coping with old age. —Daily Express, UK

This geriatric Adrian Mole made me laugh and think. Terrific. — Woman & Home, UK

Reading The Secret Diary, I was constantly put in mind of Ken Kesey’s madhouse tale One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, another comi-tragedy concerning the tyranny of institutions of the unwanted. Enjoy Groen’s light touch but do not be fooled by it. We live in an ageing society. The Secret Diary is a handbook of resistance for our time. — ***** The Sunday Telegraph

Funny and frank – a story with a great deal of heart, it pulled me in with its self-deprecating humour, finely drawn characters and important themes. Anyone who hopes to grow old with dignity will have much to reflect on. — Graeme Simsion, author of international phenomenon The Rosie Project

There are many laughs in this book but it’s so much more than just a comedy. It’s a story about how friendship, selflessness and dignity lie at the heart of the human experience. When I’m an old man, I want to be Hendrik Groen. — John Boyne, author of international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Funny, tragic and sometimes heart rending. — Het Parool

Hendrik Groen is a heart-warming hero.  —Trouw

With pungent phrasing Groen takes down life in a retirement home. Both charming and hilarious. — **** Leeuwarder Courant

Hendrik Groen is king. My mother (78) suffers from dementia. Doesn’t read a newspaper or magazine anymore, only old photo albums can grab her attention for longer than 5 min. Hendrik Groen made her laugh out loud and she was reading for a good half hour in his book. — Ray Kluun, author of Love Life

The tears came streaming down my face. From laughing so hard. I couldn’t stop grinning for three days. — Ouderenjournaal

Never a dull moment with my new BFF Hendrik Groen. — Read Shop, Hedel

It reminded me of a combination between The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Wonderful! Shame it’s finished already. — Arjen Broers, Bookshop Bruna

Heart-warming, funny and poignant. It’s about all aspects of life. EVERYBODY should read this. — Bookshop Stevens

THE SECRET DIARY OF HENDRIK GROEN is, plain and simple, a hoot. The old coot’s humor comes out on every page, as does his kind and gentle heart.  Some entries are sad, some are happy, some are alarming, but all are achingly honest. Most of all, Hendrik Groen is a genuinely unique character, and a character many of us would strive to be at 83 ¼ years old. Bravo! — BookReporter

One of the most successful debut novels of 2014, on a very topical subject. The Dutch publisher Meulenhoff has never received so many heart-warming emails and letters from readers throughout the Netherlands! Also published in large print and audio editions, as requested by many.

Hendrik Groen may be old, but he’s certainly not dead yet and not messing about this year. Granted, his daily walks become shorter and shorter because the legs are protesting and he certainly frequents his GP’s office; he’s an elderly, technically speaking. But why would that mean that life’s only about hiding out in a retirement home, drinking coffee and waiting for death to come?

In short and honest, seemingly light-hearted diary entries Hendrik Groen takes the reader along for a year full of ups and downs in a retirement home in the north of Amsterdam. On the last day of the year it will be hard to say goodbye to this charming character…

Marketing Information

  • Complete English translation available; other language translations too!
  • 700,000 copies sold in his diaries
  • 850,000 copies sold in total in his books
  •  TV rights sold
  • Still in the Bestseller Top 10, almost three years after publication.
  • Winner of the 2016 NS Publieksprijs for Best Novel of the Year
  • US Audio edition: Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine






Hendrik_Italian    Hendrik_UK   Groen_ATTEMPTS TO MAKE SOMETHING OF LIFE_Catalan_Ara Llibres_Fall 2016 Groen_ATTEMPTS TO MAKE SOMETHING OF LIFE_Spain_Roca Editorial_March 2016 Groen_ATTEMPTS TO MAKE SOMETHING OF LIFE_Sweden_Wahlstrom & Widstrand_June 2016        Meulenhoff_Groen_ATTEMPTS TO MAKE SOMETHING OF LIFE_Iceland Cover   Meulenhoff_Groen_ATTEMPTS TO MAKE SOMETHING OF LIFE_Polish cover_Albatros_May 2016HENDRIK GROEN 83 1:4_Norwegian Cover Groen_HendrikTitkosNaploja_20160803_02 groen_-attempts-to-make-something-of-life-_mladinska-knjiga_december-2016  hendrik-groen-cover serbia   groen_attempts-to-make-something-of-live_brazil_tusquetsplaneta_november-2016  groen_attempts-to-make-something-of-life_china_thinkingdom_december-2016  Groen_ATTEMPTS TO MAKE SOMETHING OF LIFE_Finland_Gummerus_January 2017-300 attempts to make something of life bulgarian cover attempts taiwan        9781405924009_TheSecretDiaryofHendrikGroen_COV.indd  INTENTOS DE SACARLE ALGO A LA VIDA bolsillo.indd   

Italy (Longanesi), UK (Michael Joseph/PRH), Catalan (Ara Llibres), Spain (Roca Editorial), Sweden (Wahlstrom & Widstrand), Norway (Vigmostad Bjorke), Iceland (Bjartur), Poland (Albatros), Hungary (Libri), Slovenia (Mladinska Knjiga), Serbia (Dereta), Brazil (Tusquets/Planeta), China (Thinkingdom), Finland (Gummerus), France (Presses de la Cité), Bulgaria (Bard), Taiwan (Commonwealth Publishing), Czech Republic (XYZ-Albatros), UK (Michael Joseph/PRH, paperback edition), Spain (Roca Editorial, paperback edition), Greece (Patakis), Croatia (Mozaik Knjiga), Slovakia (Albatros), Ukraine (Hemiro), Bosnia (BTC Sahinpasic), Turkey (Can), Japan (Shueisha), Korea (Moonhak Soochup), Romania (Editura Art),

Foreign Covers

Tre Publishing