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Part Three of The Discovery of Heaven is primarily focused on Quinten, the son of Ada and Onno (or Max?). After his birth, Max and Sophia – Ada’s mother – take Quinten to live in a castle that has been converted into a condominum-like setting; as Quinten gets older he is a regular presence in the homes of the other residents and learns enough that he becomes wise beyond his years.
Onno still plays a role in Quinten’s life but it is fairly hands-off; he supports his upbringing financially and occasionally visits him, but with his ascendant career in Dutch politics it is apparent that he made the right decision in letting others raise his son. Quinten doesn’t seem affected by this distance; in fact if anything he seems that much more in awe of Onno.
Quinten knows he has a mother and that she is not able to be with him, and when he is young he creates some touching make-believe scenarios to explain her absence. When he is older and goes to visit Ada for the first time, I was touched by his maturity and how Mulisch described the scene.
Two important deaths cause huge upheavals in the lives of everyone. After the first death, Onno goes off the grid and refuses to be contacted by anyone, not even Quinten, and probably has not (yet) been made aware of the second — more shocking and surprising — death. This second death has caused Quinten to question everything, like Onno has; and he becomes bound and determined to find him.
The final part of the book is going to be interesting and I cannot wait to see how Mulisch brings it all together. I’m especially looking forward to finding out the significance of Onno and Max’s initial meeting.