Author of Het Jaar van de Uil (The year of the owl, Kosmos Uitgevers 2016) and Mijn eerste lijk is gelukkig vers (Fortunately my first corpse is fresh, De Fontein 2015).
The year of the owl:
In The year of the owl I describe the remarkable things that happened to me after the death of my father. After an intense mourning period I finally managed to overcome the worst of my sadness and grief. Then I had an intense spiritual experience which marked a paradigm shift in my thinking – both in my personal and professional life. Whereas first I would believe nothing until it was proven, since that experience I believe everything until proven otherwise. This magical event has changed me forever.
The book describes how I left the mourning process as a different person, and that my father’s intensely sad death also quite unexpectedly led to beautiful things in my life. This personal development process has been of incredible value to me, and above all, it’s made me see myself in a new light, it made me see the real me. And it was a major catalyst in my decision to leave the Public Prosecution Service and instead go where my heart would take me. So it isn’t just a very comforting and hopeful book, but also a very personal book about a wondrous true story that I like to share with others.
Royal attention for ‘The year of the owl’!
This letter from the Secretary of Her Majesty Queen Máxima and His Majesty King Willem Alexander of the Dutch Royal Family states that the ‘kind gesture of sending the book ‘The year of the owl’ to Queen Máxima has been very much appreciated’. I feel honored!
Below on the left, my book in Dutch. And especially for you, I made a cover in English :-).
On Bol.com (the Dutch Amazon), my book gets 5 star reviews (the maximum) from 22 readers!
“Je boek leest heel vlot en gemakkelijk, zeer mooi geschreven!!”
“Ik heb je prachtige boek bijna uit. Dubbel gevoel: ik wil het einde weten (hoewel ik zo mijn vermoedens heb ;-)), maar vind het ook al jammer als ik denk aan de laatste pagina van dit zo intens mooi geschreven verhaal. Zo gaat dat met echt goede boeken!!”
“Het boek inmiddels in één adem uitgelezen. Jammergenoeg, want zoals altijd bij een goed boek wil je geen afscheid nemen van de hoofdpersonen. Pascale beschrijft al haar emoties, haar ommekeer en toont dat een afscheid ook het begin van iets heel moois kan zijn. Een positief en gedreven persoon met een luisterend oor voor anderen.”
“Nadat ik begonnen was met lezen in je mooie boek kon ik niet meer stoppen. Wat een mooi eerbetoon aan je vader, ik herkende zoveel in je verhaal en was er diep door ontroerd. Je hebt me geïnspireerd om jouw levensmotto te volgen: luisteren naar je gevoel en naar je hart.”
“Ik had je boek in drie dagen uit. Meeslepend, herkenbaar, positief! Bewondering voor de stappen die je hebt gezet en blijft zetten!”
“Ik heb het boek uit! Niet weg te leggen zo mooi! Mijn vriendenkring weet wat ze gaan krijgen de komende verjaardagen…Pascale, ik duim voor een volgend boek…”.
“Ik heb net je boek Het jaar van de uil gelezen. Zo ongelooflijk mooi en ontroerend en vooral herkenbaar. Het voelde grotendeels alsof ik het zelf had meegemaakt. Sinds mijn moeders dood kwamen ook de uilen op mijn pad in allerlei vormen en deze zomer zelfs bij de overburen in de tuin waar ik hem mocht aanschouwen, en inderdaad, kippenvel. Hij kijkt dwars door je heen. Mooi dat we dit mogen beleven. Dank voor de mooie leesuren en ik verheug mij op je volgende ervaringen.”
“Heb jouw boek gelezen, fraai boek, mijn grote complimenten!”
“Een verrassing, een traan, een glimlach, een zoektocht, een vinden, magische woorden. Rauwe rouw, compassie, alleen, samen. Herinneringen zoeken, herinneringen maken. Je boek neemt je mee op reis, naar je eigen heilige graal, die vinden en durven te omarmen.”
“Dit weekend heb ik HET JAAR VAN DE UIL gelezen, en ik wilde je laten weten dat ik het een erg mooi boek vond. Het boek had ook wel een andere uitwerking op mij persoonlijk, want het proces van afscheid nemen van je vader wat je er erg ontroerend en in details beschrijft, dat heb ik eigenlijk nog maar pas geleden meegemaakt. Mijn vader is eind maart overleden, en het idee dat hij er niet meer is begint een beetje te wennen. Maar om dan over jouw ervaringen te lezen vond ik mooi, en het had op mij zeker ook wel een troostrijk effect. Hoewel elk leven uniek is, zag ik zeker overeenkomsten, al was het maar dat mijn vader ook een bijzondere man was met wie ik een diepe band had)… Kortom, ik heb wel wat tranen bij het lezen gelaten, en dat op zich is louterend.
Dank dus voor deze leeservaring!”
“Heb het boek bijna uit!! Vind het zo mooi geschreven! Sommige stukjes vond ik wel erg verdrietig maar hoe je dat beschreven hebt met die gebeurtenis van de uil erna vond ik ook echt super mooi. Vind het knap hoe je al die gebeurtenissen zo mooi beschreven hebt!”
“Pascale, ik heb het boek helemaal uit. Er zou hierover eigenlijk een film gemaakt dienen te worden. Je bent en blijft een schrijfster pur sang!! Super.”
“Ik was helemaal onder de indruk van je boek. Bedankt!”
“Lieve Pascale, ik heb genoten van je boek. Je hebt me geraakt met jouw verhaal; eerlijk, mooi, met humor en zo puur! Dank je wel… ik kijk uit naar je volgend boek!”
“Ik wilde je graag even zeggen dat ik het echt een prachtig boek vind! Zo persoonlijk, ontroerend en voor mij op het einde ook erg herkenbaar. Ik moet je eerlijk bekennen dat ik geen die-hard-boeken-verslinder ben maar ik heb het boek vrijwel aan één stuk uitgelezen; je hebt het zo mooi omschreven, ik zie de plekken waar je over vertelt helemaal voor me! Super!”
“Ik heb het boek met plezier gelezen. Het is heel mooi en herkenbaar, het heeft me soms ook wel extra geraakt.”
“Complimenten voor je geweldige boek, Pascale. Het is prachtig, ontroerend en zet je aan het denken!”
“Lieve Pascale, ik heb net je tweede boek uit… wat een dapper en kwetsbaar monument…. ik herken er veel in en las soms zinnen terug die ik letterlijk zelf heb uitgesproken of gedacht. Ik verheug me nu al op je derde boek!
“Mooi en indrukwekkend!”
“Heb ‘Het jaar van de uil’ inmiddels uit. Heel mooi en vaak ook een erg ontroerend boek. Tot pagina 28 kon ik nog met droge ogen lezen, daarna regelmatig niet meer. Wat een tocht door het innerlijke zelf.
En wat een eer om zomaar je eigen uil te mogen koesteren in jullie eigen tuin. Wat een twijfel zal jij als rationeel denkende officier van justitie gehad hebben bij de manifestatie van deze astrale vingerwijzingen dat er meer is in het leven!”
“Pascale, ik heb jouw boek ‘Het jaar van de uil’ bijna uit (…). Ik ben onder de indruk. Ook ik ben zo iemand die wars is van alles wat neigt naar zweverigheid. Ik doe er ook altijd lacherig over en zet mensen die meer open-minded zijn dan ik nogal denigrerend weg als zweefkezen die met een stang prei in hun achterste hopen op komische interventie in de liefde. Jouw boek heeft mij geleerd om niet zo hard te oordelen. Het feit dat ik iets niet kan waarnemen of ervaren wil niet zeggen dat het niet bestaat. Dat is een arrogante gedachte. Dat is wat jouw boek mij nu al heeft geleerd. Jouw verhaal heeft me echt geraakt en laat me anders tegen zaken aankijken. Dank daarvoor!”
‘Jij bent mijn heldin! Dank je wel voor het schrijven van een prachtig boek! Ik geniet van iedere pagina! Ik vind het soms bijna eng hoe goed JIJ, MIJN ervaringen beschrijft!
‘Oh wat heb je een mooi boek geschreven. Prachtig taalgebruik, maar vooral heel mooi weergegeven wat je beleefd hebt. Het heeft me enorm geraakt, zeker omdat ik het proces van overlijden van mijn vader hetzelfde hebt beleefd en het ook tot een omwenteling in mijn leven heeft geleid. Ik zie uit naar een volgende boek :-)’
‘Wowwww boek in twee dagen ademloos gelezen. Herkenning hier, herkenning daar, prachtig geschreven. Zelf ben ik ca 20 jaar geleden de verandering aangegaan, door gebeurtenissen op mijn pad, mede door het lezen van het boek; ‘Voettocht naar Santiago’ van Shirley Maclain. Een verrijking van mijn leven. Ook jouw boek deelt nu een stukje van mijn pad. Dank je wel hiervoor. Voor je hoop en kracht! Alle goeds en liefs’
“Ik heb in één ruk je prachtige tweede boek uitgelezen. Bedankt!”
“Eindelijk was het zover: jouw boek kwam van de plank af en in een hoek van de bank genesteld met een sloot thee, ben ik begonnen met lezen. Zo’n 4 uur later moest ik echt stoppen vanwege hongerige puber. Vandaag na laaange werkdag vlug naar huis, een simpele kop soep met brood want mama MOEST het boek verder lezen.
En ja, nu is het uit. Je komt er niet onderuit om aan het eind een diepe zucht te slaken omdat je diep van binnen alles hebt gevoeld aan emoties wat een mens ook maar kán voelen.
Het hele scala aan menselijke emoties verder ben ik ervan overtuigd dat karma het alomvattende wederkerige “bewijs” is dat in iedere beleving een spiegel te vinden is, dat we naarmate we ouder worden ook het privilege hebben om dit alles te mogen ervaren als beloning voor onze inspanningen om een positieve verandering in de wereld neer te zetten. Jouw woorden hadden de mijne kunnen zijn…
Dank voor dit boek, wat een geschenk!! Dit allesomvattende prachtige boek is een absolute must-have. Een zinvol kerstcadeau…xxx ”
‘Vanmorgen je boek uitgelezen. Wat prachtig dat ik via je woorden op papier getuige mocht zijn van je openbaring en het feit dat je je gevoel durfde te volgen. Kunnen velen wat van leren. Heel bijzonder inspirerend, dank je wel.’
‘Beste Pascale, deze week heb ik jouw boek bijna achter elkaar uitgelezen. Heel mooi! Ik ga je zeker volgen om meer van je te kunnen lezen!’
‘Lieve Pascale, ik heb genoten van je boek. Nu verheug ik mij om aan je andere boek te beginnen!’
‘Als je je soms afvraagt hoe het kan dat het lijkt alsof alles met elkaar verbonden is, maar je kunt er de vinger niet goed opleggen, dan weet je nu zeker dat het wel degelijk is wat het lijkt.
Dit boek laat zien dat een mens, onwillekeurig van zijn of haar plek op deze aardbol, in staat is om een ommezwaai te maken die hem/ haar uiteindelijk bij zichzelf brengt. Dat besef uitdragen naar de rest van de wereld is voor ieder die dit tegenkomt, een groot geschenk want het maakt diegene tot een beter mens. En daar zit onze wereld dringend om verlegen.
Dit boek is een waardevolle en zeker zin-volle bijdrage aan onze universele behoefte tot het overstijgen van onszelf naar een hoger plan; het volgen van je intuïtie.
Een prachtige lofzang.’
‘Ik heb je boek met veel aandacht gelezen. Het bestaat voor mijn gevoel uit twee delen, een voor en een na het overlijden van je vader. Zijn verscheiden heeft je in een rouwproces geworpen waarvan je de beleving diepgaand omschrijft. Dit rouwproces, deze crisis heeft je de mogelijkheid gegeven om de in jou aanwezige spirituele inhoud naar boven te laten komen. Ook dit is nog een geschenk van je vader. Het mooie aan je boek vind ik de overgang van het “gewone” leven naar een leven dat zichtbaar geleid word door je spirituele drijfveren. Ook de verandering van loopbaan, het opgeven van vermeende zekerheden voor een loopbaan als schrijfster laat zien dat je de moed hebt om je hart te volgen. Van zulke ontwikkelingen word ik van binnen blij en het verwarmt mijn hart.
Ik wens je veel succes met je schrijverschap.’
‘Zo bijzonder maar ook herkenbaar. Vooral de kwetsbaarheid en dit (steeds meer) durven te laten zien, komt binnen (…).’
‘Ik heb inmiddels je boek gelezen. Wat me in het begin opviel was hoe gedetailleerd je alles beschrijft van je jeugd. Daar ben je nog helemaal de officier van justitie die geen kleinigheid ontgaat. Dan, als je in je verdriet wegzakt, raak ik geroerd. Daar had ik tissues nodig. Om jouw verdriet en omdat je me herinnerde aan de rouw om mijn moeder (…). Wat mij toen duidelijk werd, was dat je rouw niet kunt ontlopen. Daarna komt er een heel andere Pascale tevoorschijn en dat was waarschijnlijk ook het geval en de bedoeling om over te vertellen. Bijna een goeroe en misschien wil je dat ook zijn. De mensen meegeven dat er andere dingen zijn in het leven dan een carrière (…). Mooi neergezet hoe een leven kan veranderen, kan omslaan, hoe er een transformatie kan ontstaan.’
‘Words cannot describe what I feel, the story gets so close to you because it was written in such a personal fashion. What an evocative, exquisite tribute! A great deal of praise to you!!!’
Peter R. de Vries, crime reporter, true crime author and international Emmy-awardwinner:
“I have read your wonderful book The year of the owl in one go. From the very first page, I was grabbed by this touching story. I just had to finish it! It is a beautiful, loving and well written book that captures the special relationship between father and daughter terrifically. I am not ashamed to say that there were quite some passages that moved me. It is wonderful to see how, out of such a sad experience, you managed to make a beautiful and lasting tribute from which we can all learn something! On the other side of fear, lies freedom…”
Jessica Villerius, film- and documentarymaker:
“I read this book in one go. Big tears of emotion and recognition. For me it confirmed that you can spend many years working and living in the tough world of facts and evidence, but feelings and intuition will take you where you need to be in the end. Inspiring! I have seldom read such a beautiful, honest book full of vulnerability. Therefore I think that everyone deserves to read this wonderful book with so much food for thought.”
Marc Rieu, art painter and son of worldfamous André Rieu from the Johann Strauss Orchestra:
‘Words cannot describe what I feel, the story gets so close to you because it was written in such a personal fashion. What an evocative, exquisite tribute! A great deal of praise to you!!!‘
Egbert Brons, coach/trainer/investigator of the art of creation:
“In this masterfully written book the Law of Attraction plays a significant part. Small pieces of the puzzle are carefully wrapped into the story so the reader remains curious until the very end. The story has different layers and is not only a family saga. It is also a story about two journeys of transformation. One is that which we all will go through sooner or later, the other is a journey that is only open to those who dare to open themselves up to the incorporeal and the intangible. In this book Pascale shows you a reality that also exists, but that remains hidden for many. She writes in a style that sometimes touches you straight in your heart. She takes you on a journey through her life and seduces you to keep on reading. In a playful manner she connects the everyday with spirituality. She knows how to bring tension and expectation into the story. The book is a testimony of a remarkable spiritual experience, of deeply experiencing how the Law of Attraction can transfer a life and how a totally new reality can be created. It’s highly recommended for everyone who wants to peek behind the screens of everyday reality.”
Vreneli Stadelmaier, author of the bestselling book ‘Sure she can’ and winner of the Joke Smit-award 2015:
“The year of the owl is a beautiful spiritual requiem for a father. Bruinen describes wonderfully how saying goodbye can lead to reconsideration and transformation. An encouragement for everyone who wants to reinvent oneself.”
Isabel Beije, editor ‘Mijn Geheim’:
“I very much enjoyed reading your book! What a beautiful journey you have described, from the head to the heart! And such special examples of so many so-called ‘coincidences’ that have led to big changes in your life.”
Marga Miltenburg, director speaker’s Agency ZijSpreekt:
“The title of Pascale Bruinen’s new book ‘The year of the owl'(Kosmos Editors) made me curious. In the book she describes the love she felt for her father, being the youngest daughter. He was her counselor, she learned a lot from him. Her father was like a wise owl. For that reason, Pascale’s mother had given him – many years before his demise – a statue of a wooden owl, a gift that had visibly touched him. When her father dies at the age of 89, she goes through a deep crisis. Pascale: ‘Age doesn’t count, the feeling of absence is overwhelming. Mourning is very hard work. All feelings of sorrow, pain and despair have a function.’ During this mourning period she was taken om a search for her ‘authentic self’, the personal nucleus that finally remains when all superfluous layers have disappeared. Pascale: ‘Showing vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but of strength, daring and courage.’ After she has come out of this crisis, she has an intense spiritual experience in which an owl plays an important part. The book shares with us that ‘when you wish something deeply enough en then can release your wish, it comes true, even though it may take a while.’Thinking power influences and creaties. All that gets conscious attention, grows. The Law of Attraction, she calls it. Because of her experience with the owl she makes a 180 degrees turn. As of that moment, she believes everything biforehand until it’s clear that it cannot possibly be true. In ‘The year of the owl’ we see this process of awakening. Her father’s death brought her a lot of good, in the end. Pascale felt that this special story had to be told. I fully agree with her. Read it and let this book touch you! The story of a public prosecutor becoming the writer and motivational speaker she is now.”
Reviews of readers:
“I have almost finished your wonderful book. I want to know the end but I also think it’s a shame when I think of the very last page of this story that you have written in an intensely beautiful way. But that’s just the way it is when you read a really good book!!”
“Your book reads very fast and easily, it’s very beautifully written!!”
“I have read your book in no time. Unfortunately, because – as always when reading a good book – you don’t want to say goodbye to the main characters. Pascale describes all her emotions, her transformation and shows that a painful goodbye can also be the beginning of something very beautiful. Pascale is a positive and driven person with a listening ear for others.”
“After I had started reading this beautiful book I could not stop. What a wonderful homage to your father, I recognised so much in your story and was deeply touched by it. You have inspired me to follow your motto: listen to your feelings and your heart.”
“I finished reading your book in three days. Immersive, recognisable, positive.”
“I bought Pascale’s book and finished reading it the very same day. I went through the book on an emotional rollercoaster. Pascale’s manner of writing is unparalleled. In a subtiel way, she knows how to describe emotions. There’s no way of escaping them. On earth, there exists more than rational thinking, tangible things and running after success in business. In the book, the owl plays a strategic part. For Pascale, it is the catalyst to five her feelings an explicit role. Without giving too much away, the catalpa tree, the tree that gets a second life, is a symbol for a new (different) life. I can absolutely recommend this book. It reads in a lovely way, but don’t be afraid of strong emotions because there are plenty of those. Compliments for having written this little masterpiece, Pascale.”
“I have just read your book ‘The year of the owl’. So incredibly beautiful and touching and especially recognisable, It overall felt as if I had gone through all this myself. Since my mother’s death, there also have been owls that came into my life in all kinds of forms, this summer even one in the neighbours’ garden. Goosebumps! It looked right through me. So beautiful that we have the privilege to experience this. Thanks for the beautiful hours of reading time and I look forward to your next experiences.”
“I’ve finished reading your book! Un-put-awayably beautiful! All my friends know what they are going to get as a present for their upcoming birthdays…Pascale, I keep my fingers crossen for your next book…”
“Just finished reading your book, it’s a very fine book, big compliments!”
“This weekend I finished reading THE YEAR OF THE OWL and I wanted to let you know that I think it’s a very beautiful book. But the book also had a different effect on me personally, because the process of having to say goodbye to your father – that you have described in details and in a very touching way – is something that I also had to go through recently. My father died last March and the idea that he is not here anymore is just sinking in. To read about your experiences was not only beautiful but also very comforting. Although every life is unique, I surely saw similarities, if only because my father was also a very special man with whom I had a deep connection. So, I shed some tears while reading your book, and that in itself is cathartic. So thank you for this reading experience!”
“Pascale I have just read your book. It doesn’t happen often but I had tears in my eyes. What a beautiful book. Straight from the heart…and so close to my own emotions. It is as if you have been trying to tell me something…You have got me thinking…Thank you!”
“Almost finished your book!!! Beautifully written! Some parts were pretty sad but the part where you described the experience with the owl afterwards was really stunningly beautiful. Very impressive!”
“Pascale, I have finished your book. I think it should be made into a movie. You were meant to be a writer!! Great.”
“I was completely impressed by your book. Thanks!”
“Dear Pascale, I have enjoyed your book. You’ve touched me with your story; honest, beautiful, with humour and so pure! Thank you so much…I’m looking forward to your next book!”
“I wanted to tell you that I really think your book is wonderful! So personal, touching, and – in the end – also very recognisable. I have to confess I am not a die-hard book reader but I finished your book in no time; you’ve described it so beautifully, in my imagination I see all the places you write about very clearly. It’s great!”
“I have enjoyed reading your book. It is very beautiful and recognisable, it has really moved me.”
Reviews on Bol.com (Dutch webshop comparable to Amazon): The year of the owl gets five stars (maximum score)!
Unexpectedly touching SaraB: ‘The author has experienced a remarkable development. She dares to be really vulnerable in this book and that is very inspiring. It is also very encouraging to read that, even in the most difficult of times, it is always possible to rise above this.’
Gripping! MartinevS: ‘A very candid and compelling story, in which the past intertwines with the present. It describes beautifully the turnaround in the author’s live. This book is proof that there is more between heaven and earth!’
A very special book Jackybrown: ‘Once started I couldn’t stop reading, written in a touching and very beautiful way.’
Looking for…Marlie: ‘A surprise, a tear, a smile, a quest, a finding, magical words. Raw mourning, compassion, alone, together. Looking for memories, making memories. Your book takes you on a trip, to your own holy grale, find it and dare to embrace it.’
Wonderful! SandraMrtns: ‘A beautiful personal story that enthralls you from the first until the very last chapter. Definitely highly recommended!’
Highly recommended! IreneFranssen: ‘I recommend this book. Fascinating and open-hearted page-turner. After reading this book you’ll just have to look intently at your own motives.’
DIGITAL EXCERPT OF ‘THE YEAR OF THE OWL’:
For all those people who cannot wait until the book is actually in their possession, you can read the first 18 pages (in Dutch) by clicking on this link:
FOREWORD OF ‘THE YEAR OF THE OWL’ IN ENGLISH:
Although the name might suggest otherwise, this book is not an ornithological description of the strigidae family, better known as owls in plain English. It does not provide instructions on how to mourn responsibly, nor does it detail how I suddenly woke up one beautiful morning and exclaimed: ‘Yes! I feel enlightened!’ Not in the slightest. And no, after reading the very last page you will not have found an answer to the age-old question on the existence of reincarnation or divine beings.
So what is this book about? It is a true story about love, loss and grief. About resilience and amazement, humour and hope, even during the saddest of times. About how you can use that sadness as a springboard for rediscovering yourself after hitting rock bottom. It is a book about being vulnerable, which is not a sign of weakness but of courage, boldness and strength. In short, this book touches on universal themes, in a very personal and comforting way.
But, it also describes how I have personally witnessed the Law of Attraction at work. It flipped the world as I knew it completely upside-down.
Up until that point, I had spent my entire professional career doing legal work. First as a lawyer, and then as a public prosecutor. A legal environment is an extremely interesting and meaningful one. An environment which, with my logical and analytical skills, showed the best of my talents.
As a lawyer of the claimant party, I was forever trying to prove that what was being claimed. There is this lofty Latin saying that goes: ‘Affirmanti incumbit probatio!’ [‘The claimant bears the proof’]. Following my switch to the Public Prosecution Office, that professional urge to prove this, that and the other was roused even further. After all, as a public prosecutor it was my core business to deliver lawful and compelling evidence for the punishable acts that I attributed to a suspect. There was no room for doubt or error, or else the criminal proceedings would end in acquittal.
For more than a quarter century, day in and day out, I searched tirelessly for cold-hard and irrefutable facts to show something definitely happened in a certain way. So is it surprising when I tell you I refused to believe anything unless I had conclusive, objective reasons for it?
Imagine, then, the shock I felt when something so deeply special occurred in my personal life that it overturned my paradigm of a trusted and orderly world and changed me forever. Before this experience, I didn’t believe anything until it was absolutely and solidly proven. Ever since, I believe everything until proven wrong. Eventually, this life-changing event led to my decision in 2016 to switch careers and give up my job as a public prosecutor and become a writer.
With that down-to-earth lawyer persona inside of me, I have struggled with my decision to present this amazing but true story to a wide audience. Even though there is an increasing interest in mindfulness, meditation and finding meaning; spiritual experiences that cannot be logically and rationally explained are still a massive taboo in our western society. That uncomfortable feeling around everything that is labelled ‘woolly’ is as widespread as ever. This is especially true in the legal world that I inhabited for so long.
Nonetheless, the urge to tell my story to others ultimately proved stronger than the fear to lose my professional credibility. After all, if there is one thing I have learned, it is that a professional attitude and being vulnerable – even in that stubborn legal reality – are not mutually exclusive, but complementary. I have several reasons to tell this story. Firstly because, no matter how astounding, it has occurred exactly as described in this book. Something that merely starts out as a deeply cherished desire in your mind’s eye can manifest exactly in day-to-day sensory reality.
But this book is also a tribute to daring to be vulnerable, showing yourself who you really are. Do this and you will create a sense of recognition and connectedness. And those moments of connectedness are what really matter in one’s life. Thirdly, this book aims to show that you really can climb up from rock-bottom so long as you accept your grief. I hope that this provides some comfort. In this respect, I can only wish on you what this Indian’s verse captures so very elegantly:
May the stars carry your sadness away
May the flowers fill your heart with beauty
May hope forever wipe away your tears, and, above all
May silence make you strong.
Finally, I am sharing this story because I want you to have that same magical experience in your life. If you keep an open mind and try not to be (too) judgmental, you open yourself to so many beautiful events that you would otherwise miss.
So, next time you catch yourself thinking: No way that can be true!, I challenge you to question if the opposite might actually be true or even more true. Miracles do happen, so stay alert. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.
IMPRESSION OF MY BOOKPRESENTATION OF ‘THE YEAR OF THE OWL’ .
On October 30th 2016 the book was presented at Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht where Han, my significant other, surprised me with three live owls…
When I got home, I saw this sight in the bathroom. Please check the shadow on the ground, when you look at it upside down, it resembles…the head of an owl!
On 29 March 2016, I signed my second bookcontract with Kosmos Publishers, a festive moment. Below you can see me with Annelies Nijboer, acquiring editor at Kosmos.
FORTUNATELY MY FIRST CORPSE IS FRESH
My first book appeared at De Fontein publishers in early 2015, Mijn eerste lijk is gelukkig vers (Fortunately my first corpse is fresh). The book got on the Bestseller 60 list in its first week, a feat I’m very proud of!
Debut release in January 2015 at De Fontein publishers, a very personal and open insight into my work as a prosecutor, person and proud mother. The book, now in its 4th edition, got great reviews and recounts real cases along with a personal insight into the doubts, emotions and feelings that go hand in hand with being a female public prosecutor. I am also a human being, and you could imagine that a gruesome sex crime definitely leaves its marks on me as a mother of three. If you have ever wanted to find out how a search is carried out, what it is like for a woman to manage a group of macho policemen, or why someone chooses to hire an assassin, then my book might be just up your alley. You can order it by clicking on the link.
Click here for an excerpt in Dutch.
Impression book presentation on 25 January 2015 at Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht:
Herman Bolhaar, former President of the Board of Procurators General: “An amazing feat!”
Ruud Bik, Deputy Chief of the Dutch National Police: “Mijn eerste lijk is gelukkig vers’ is written by a true professional who is also a gifted writer. The book has a clear structure and is easy to read. Pascale provides a candid look into the life of a public prosecutor, commentating on (dire) cases from a human point of view and she also doesn’t avoid critical self-reflection. With a lot of humour, but never without respect, Pascale sheds a light on the not-so-pretty side of our society and the roles played by police and the Public Prosecution Service. Everyone would do well to read it, but I would especially recommend it to our own detectives. Pascale has a way of bridging the gap between two worlds that are closely connected but don’t always see eye to eye. In her own way, she connects our worlds even more. ”
Prof. mr. drs. F.C.M.A. Michiels, member of the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State: “I read through your book in one go. I was especially impressed by the parts about sex crimes cases. But there were also (other) parts that cracked me up, like the guy who was ‘sentenced to’ (a fine of) 200 euro, to then ask when he could come collect the money. All in all, the book offers an amazing insight into the work of a prosecutor (and at the same time the work of the police and judges). And not entirely without value, it’s a laid-back read.”.
Nico Lindhout, a loyal reader of my blog: “Prior to reading the book I couldn’t shake that ivory tower feeling. The Prosecution Service, strict men and women in robes, protectors of the law who crack down with ridiculous sentence demands. But having read your book, I now feel differently. Its nuance triumphed over my presuppositions. Well I’ll be… was my first thought, you’re like real people sometimes. I especially felt that way after reading chapter 18, which showed that society is indeed being protected. ”
Want to read more testimonials? See below.
In this picture, you can see me signing my first bookcontract at De Fontein publishers on 26 February 2014 (incidentally (?) on my late father’s birthday, to whom I dedicated my book).
Here you can read two chapters translated into English from Fortunately my first corpse is fresh:
THE ART OF WRITING…
Ah… the art of writing. I can’t resist its pull.
That stab of envy whenever I saw someone’s name being accompanied by the term ‘author’ or ‘writer’ was a vague wake-up call. Envy doesn’t reflect well on me, I admit, but it rather disturbed me at the time. Because obviously I wasn’t a writer. I was a public prosecutor.
How did I go from that to trying my hand at writing? As choices go, that particular one wouldn’t make much sense.
Allow me to take you back in time, to 2008. My life appeared perfect: a good, meaningful job as a prosecutor, great kids and a loving partner. I worked around the house and the garden, arranged everything to do with school and clubs, went running a few times a week, regularly met with family and friends and I made sure to schedule time and attention for my elderly parents. In short, I was unmistakably part of the sandwich generation; stuck between being responsible and caring for teens growing up on the one hand and ailing, elderly parents on the other hand.
Despite my busy life, I couldn’t help but think something was missing. I just didn’t know what. That vague feeling only grew stronger over the years and ended up just being plain unpleasant. This whole process lasted for years.
Until the day I read an amazing column in the newspaper. I was touched, and then it hit me: This is exactly what I want to do! I felt like I had solved the puzzle. I had found its missing piece and I knew where to put it. In hindsight, it shouldn’t have taken years for me to figure it out. I had always loved language and books since childhood. I used books for all my favourite pass-times. Whereas other kids might play something like cops and robbers, I played librarian; collecting not only my own books, but those of my parents, too. I would then cut up paper into square cards and scribble down the title, author and ‘return date’. To actually be able to place the cards inside the book I crafted a small paper slot inside each book cover, all neatly taped up. Painstaking, laborious work. I wrote stories, too. One of them (“Het Spookhuis [The Haunted House]”) actually made it into the school paper (this first ‘publication’ can be traced back via www.coolcolumns.com).
So when it finally dawned on me that I wanted to start writing columns, I faced another demon. I was scared. Hesitant to have other people read my works, afraid they would reject it. But curiosity eventually trumped that feeling, I was dying to know the opinion of others and so I, albeit tremblingly, sent some samples to family, friends and acquaintances. To my great relief, their reactions were positive and I was motivated to continue.
Sometime after, I happened upon a ‘Writing Columns’ course on the internet. All of my previous trepidations were off on holiday. I signed up immediately. That course was the highlight of my week. It taught me a lot, but I especially enjoyed the zeal of my teacher and the inspiring group of equally minded people from all walks of life. I soon noticed that writing left me feeling satisfied, and that at the same time it acted as an escape from all the misery I faced in the criminal cases I tried in my professional career.
The course bolstered my confidence enough to take a next step: the launch of my own blog. Lo and behold, www.coolcolumns.com arrived in late 2011. Ever since, I post a sneak peek of my weekly blogs on Wednesdays, with the full text being released on Fridays. The columns touch a range of subjects. One week I might write about my children, the other week about shopping trips, nostalgic fragments of the past, travels, the spiritual side of life and whatever else.
At www.cruisecraver.com, an infotainment site, I share my passion for cruising with those interested in it. I launched this website to take away all that prejudice surrounding this mode of travel. It doesn’t just list a great deal of info about the ins and outs of cruises, but you also get to see my photos of what the cruise ships and destinations look like.
Eventually I was keen on sharing my experiences as a public prosecutor in a personal way, so in the Spring of 2012 I proposed this to the highest chief of the Public Prosecution Service, Herman Bolhaar, President of the Board of Procurators General. He was excited about the idea from the get-go and gave me a thumbs up. From September 2012 to 31 December 2015 I wrote a weekly column about my job as public prosecutor in the Algemeen Dagblad, the second largest Dutch national newspaper. I decided to stop doing this on 1 January 2016 because I’ve turned sail and plotted a completely different course to involve writing, giving lectures and inspiring others in the broadest sense of the word.
I also wrote four articles about juvenile delinquents and victims for Fabulous Mama Magazine, a glossy for young parents. You can find these articles later on.
Chapeau Magazine, WijLimburg, philharmonie zuidnederland, InspirerendLeven.nl, Slachtofferhulp Nederland, Heart Systems Nederland, Wonen Meerssen. I write editorials, advertorials and blogs. If you are interested, please contact me via the ‘Contact’ page. You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will discuss the options together.
“Mijn eerste lijk is gelukkig vers”
Fortunately, my first corpse is fresh was released in Januari 2015 by publishing house De Fontein. The book is a very personal and accessibly written account of my work as a female public prosecutor/magistrate/mother. Please click here to read: leesfragment.
‘Prosecutor in Bestseller 60’
on 4 February 2015 by Peter Kuijt of Hebban.nl:
‘Not only (ex-) lawyers write coveted books, also public prosecutors are very popular with the readers. Public prosecutor Pascale Bruinen enters the Bestseller 60 with her book ‘Mijn eerste lijk is gelukkig vers’ (‘Fortunately, my first corpse is fresh’), her peek behind the legal scenes.
The bestselling thrillers of this week:1.
(-) Pascale Bruinen – Mijn eerste lijk is gelukkig vers – 1e wk’
Impression bookpresentation on the 25th of January 2015 in Boekhandel Dominicanen, Maastricht:
Get the book at bol.com!
“Her book, ‘Mijn eerste lijk is gelukkig vers’, combines the wit and humour of her internet blog and the more serious tone as a public prosecutor in her weekly newspaper column in the Algemeen Dagblad”, Dagblad De Limburger (regional newspaper)
“Wow, what a book! I had no idea what prosecutors actually did (…). I laughed, but I also cried, many of the serious cases really hit home. Her pleasant story-telling will do that (…). I recommend that everyone reads this amazing book! “, The Book Girl, blog
“The discussed cases in this book would do well as independent mini-thrillers (…). It’s a nice and easy read thanks to Pascale’s laid-back yet direct style of writing. The language just flows. No pompous words, no pretensions (…). And this author certainly doesn’t shun humour, either. I cracked up at her describing all the things she had to remove from her office when ‘flexi-working’ became a thing and that personal items were no longer allowed (…). Pascale leads with her chin in this book (…). We now know more than we ever thought possible. I am glad to have read this book, and I happily rate it 4/5 stars.”, Mieke Schepens, graaggelezen.blogspot.nl
“In this book, which I simply gobbled up, Pascale shares her own experiences with us (…). With her pleasant writing style and great sense of humour she adds a column to each chapter (…) the transition is flawless each time (…). Her writing style is snappy and direct, which I like. A no-nonsense book, with the author having no qualms about highlighting her own emotions and even a few screw-ups (…). It was a great read, a real page-turner this one, the language isn’t pompous, it stays nice and simple. In short, go read it!”, Sprakeloos, blog (‘Speechless’)
“Pascale Bruinen takes the reader with her to explore the world of a public prosecutor (…). She talks about it with endearing sincerity. And not without humour, either. She leads with her chin. By not being afraid to take a blow, she reduces the gap with the outside world. This, along with her gift to expressively describe situations, brings her even closer to her audience (…). It is very endearing to see how she mingles with the readers (…). All in all, a great attempt to change the one-sided view people tend to have about the work of a prosecutor.” Dick van der Veen, Hebban.nl
“I love your book. The humourous descriptions are great, and there are plenty more serious matters, too. I can’t help but look at your writing style with envy.”, Prof. Peter W. de Leeuw, professor of Internal medicine at MUMC
“Mijn eerste lijk is gelukkig vers offers a glimpse into the life of Pascale Bruinen, a woman prosecutor. I simply admire this woman, who managed to stay upright in a male-dominated world while running a family with children. Sounds difficult (…). I believe this book to be an eye-opener. I couldn’t help but wonder if Pascale actually intended to motivate more women to choose her line of career as a prosecutor. Consider me a possible convert. (…). Bruinen deals with a lot in her professional career: rape cases, incest, murder. It takes a strong-minded person to handle that day-in, day-out while having children at home (…). I also somehow expected her to be a bit more emotionless. But how wrong I was. Nearly every sentence oozes emotion and Bruinen is above all a very kind person, a normal human being and a remarkably sweet mother. Her bravery struck me right from the start. And she definitely knows how to write. It was a sincere joy to read her book. I highly recommend it. Definitely worth 5 stars.” Sherry Hussain, law student/blogger Beauty & Books
“I loved your book and it was a great read”, Mr. Van Dam, 78 years old.
“Mijn eerste lijk is gelukkig vers’ looks at every-day horrible, humorous and heart-breaking criminal cases, inside and outside of court. (The) book is an easy read (while) lawyers (…) are not usually (known) for their approachable use of language.” Tijdschrift Rechtspraak (Law Magazine), March 2015
“Just the title itself is enough incentive to go read it (…). There’s something in it for everyone to make you go think: aha, (…) so that’s how it works (…). And it’s just plain fun to read (…) that law isn’t black or white, fifty shades of grey just as much apply here. Highly recommended for those interested in the Dutch legal system!” Vrouwenthrillers.nl, March 2015
“Well what we do have here! A prosecutor who actually wrote a book about her job. I think that’s a first here in the Netherlands (…). The book has this hilarious description of her first hearing in Sittard with a ‘nice district judge with a manual’ (…). Based on the above, one could assume Bruinen to be self-absorbed or arrogant, but the opposite is true. She exposes herself in the book and shows us her insecurities (…). The book works because it’s not a propaganda item by the Public Prosecution Service, but rather an open, transparent anthology about the life of a prosecutor (…). All in all, I recommend this book, especially to outsiders. They will see that prosecutors, were there any doubt, also have a human side to them.”, Criminal lawyer Christian Visser in Mr. Magazine, a magazine for lawyers, no. 3 of 2015
“It takes guts to write an autobiography about yourself and your work while you’re still caught in the middle of it (…). Her view about the police force and mainly the detectives is one of sincere respect (…). In addition, Bruinen is not afraid to open up to the reader about her life as a mother and wife. That vulnerability provides the book with a much appreciated added dimension. The author is able to connect to the reader, whilst writing about a profession that is widely (…) seen as being boring and bureaucratic. Yet the opposite is true (…). Her writing style, use of language and humour will keep you reading. She uses normal language and converts jargon into simple-to-understand terms”. Jacques Smeets, former police officer and writer
“The many case examples make the book a lively and smooth read. And no matter how much I want to be a criminal judge, that whole prosecutor thing didn’t sound too shabby anymore. The book thrives on its personal character. It adds a more human touch to how prosecutors are perceived (…). All in all, the book is very accessible, suitable for lawyers and non-lawyers alike – and not entirely without merit – very affordable. And it seems to provide some food for thought, as I’ve seen plenty of fellow students reading a copy in the train. That’s all you need to know right there.” Sylvia Kuijsten, blogger/writer/Masters student forensic and criminal law, April 2015
“I’m part of the batch of people that you’ve influenced with your book. I now often wonder what the prosecutor in a case is thinking, like ones that involve small children or more recently, the Holleeder case. I enjoyed it, the book has a lot to offer: humour, excitement, the reader can simply taste your indignation or rage and (…) it made sure that I’ve come to see our legal system in a more nuanced light. I’m confident that your book will have shown a lot of people a more human side of court, so that in future it can count on some more respect and understanding for the tough decisions made.” John Weimar, Zos Radio Schiedam.
“As a prosecutor, Pascale Bruinen has a wealth of stories to share. It kindles her fire to write. That fire spewed many, many words, which she first covered in a column in the national newspaper and then in her book ‘Mijn eerste lijk is gelukkig vers’. Or: how a driven and relentless prosecutor turned into a vulnerable writer.” Emile Hollman, journalist and writer
“Putting faces to the world of law and injustice, that’s what you have accomplished. You have shown us a real human being who struggles just as much with what’s good and evil.” Christiaan Ruesink, editor-in-chief Voetbal International and former Algemeen Dagblad editor-in-chief
“An insanely good book, I wasn’t able to put it down and now I’m sad I’ve got nothing left to read. Aside from being a great prosecutor, Pascale is also a gifted writer! In this book, she shares with us her experiences as a Prosecutor. Nothing is hidden. She writes about her own experiences when she had to appear (and take criminal cases) in front of court, but also about her work activities outside of court. Pascale allowed me a nice glimpse into her life and work. I’d like for her to write another book. Preferably about her work, as there’s still so much more I want to know. Fiction would also be right up her alley, as someone with her knack for writing should definitely make use of it!” Nicole Kuiper, www.goodreads.com
“Bruinen has done an amazing job in creating awareness about her profession. ”Mijn eerste lijk is gelukkig vers’ is a must-read for all thriller-fans – books, tv-series, movies – who want to know more about what takes place at the Public Prosecution Service, both prior and during an investigation and what happens after a suspect has been caught.” Annabee at www.goodreads.com
“Wow, that book took me by storm. Clearly the life of a Prosecutor isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I already knew Pascale was a kind woman, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with her by phone several times. But her humour in this book definitely caught me off-guard. I laughed out loud more than once, I can tell you that. Yeah, even at the Public Prosecution Service you have folk who will discuss a serious case by phone while cooking pasta. If you’ve ever worked alongside the Public Prosecution Service, do me a favour and go read this book. And if you have nothing to do with this line of work at all, do me another favour and go read this book. Either way, I genuinely enjoyed it!” Serena Cloos, www.goodreads.com
“Great writing, a remarkable insight into the work of a prosecutor and the dilemmas that are undeniably part of being one.” Ton Strijbosch, www.goodreads.com
“It’s nice to finally see a book written by a prosecutor after a myriad available books by lawyers. Having a book that deals with the behind-the-scenes of our legal system is a real bonus. (see www.blikopdewereld.nl, category rechtspraak [jurisdiction]). When reading the book it becomes clear that Pascale Bruinen, a prosecutor for over 16 years, is passionate about her job. Her experiences show that life as a prosecutor can be hectic to say the least, with it greatly influencing one’s personal life. What’s more, as a prosecutor she is continuously faced with the excesses of society and we get to see how she handles that professionally. A stable home environment is essential. It’s nice that even non-lawyers get a clear explanation of all kinds of legal affairs. It’s a must-have for law students, simply because it offers a nice insight into the day-to-day affairs of a prosecutor. Pascale Bruinen describes how a prosecutor is also just a person, with all the fears and trepidations that go hand in hand with being one. Her book should motivate other members of the judiciary to follow suit and bundle their experiences into a book.”www.blikopdewereld.nl
“A very good book,I can strongly recommend it if you want to know more about investigation and prosecution but also about the human side of it. “Mijn eerste lijk is gelukkig vers”is an ‘excellent book with very personal and emotional experiences.” Peter-Paul Lucker, foundation ‘De Basis’ in Doorn for collegiate support after shocking incidents.
Freelance columnist and writer
From 2012 until the 8th of March 2017, I posted a new column on my blog every Friday. So on this blog, http://www.coolcolumns.com, you’ll find a large selection of funny, touching and informative columns about travel, glamour, spirituality, adolescents (a.k.a. as my kids when they were growing up) etc.
Furthermore, I blog about my favorite way to travel, which is going on a cruise. Please check out http://www.cruisecraver.com. This is an infotainment site where you’ll find a lot of practical information about the way of life on board, based on my own experiences. But you’ll also see beautiful pictures of the ships and exotic locations.