The Woman Who Fed the Dogs


Medea meets Dexter

The most hated woman in Belgium sits in her prison cell preparing for imminent release, laboring through the memories of her former life. Obsessive and reflective, yet crucially lacking in remorse, Odette’s testimony is a tricky script to untangle. Based on the real-life events of Michelle Martin, ex-wife of the notorious child abductor, murderer, and serial rapist, Marc Dutroux, this is a powerful and intelligent fictionalized account of the inner workings of Michelle Martin’s mind before, during, and after the crimes that shook a nation in the 1990s.

In The Woman Who Fed the Dogs, Hemmerechts has produced a daring novel—at once tragic, odious, and compelling—that positions the reader uncomfortably close to the human behind these unforgivable acts.

Download cover

Categories: ,




Paperback ISBN


Ebook ISBN



Publication date

January 8, 2019




Kristien Hemmerechts

Kristien Hemmerechts’s extensive output includes more than twenty novels, and numerous collections… Read more


Book Club Questions

  1. The novel is based on the true story of the wife of murderer and sociopath Marc Dutroux. What are the moral implications of keeping such a story in the public eye?
  2. Do you think it is correct for such a person to be the protagonist of a novel?
  3. Hemmerechts stresses that this is book is fiction, although it is based on true events. What is your opinion? Where do you think the border lies between fiction and non-fiction?
  4. Why do you think Hemmerechts wanted to write such a story? Why was she interested in this character? What did she hope to achieve?
  5. How do you feel about Odette after reading this novel? Is she to blame or is she a victim? Should she be released?
  6. Do you feel as if Odette had any control over her situation? Is there any proof of this within the text?
  7. Why do you think Odette was initially attracted to M?
  8. Could Odette’s mother have done more to help her daughter? If so, why do you think she chose not to?
  9. What do you think prevented Odette from going down to the cellar?
  10. Do you think Odette feels any remorse over her actions (or lack thereof)?
  11. What effect does the first-person perspective or monologue style have on how you experience the story?
  12. Do you trust Odette’s account of the events she describes? Why or why not?
  13. How do you feel about the role the public plays in this story? Does the public have a responsibility to behave in a particular way?
  14. Hemmerechts, in her interview Out of the Cellar says, ‘Before I embarked on this book, I thought of Martin and Dutroux as living on a different planet, the planet of evil, but they lived next door.’ How does this perspective change how we view the notions of good and evil?


“With unnerving conviction, this novel inhabits the mind, heart and voice of Belgium’s ‘most hated woman,’ the ex-wife of murderer Marc Dutroux – the authenticity makes for a compelling narrative.” —BLAKE MORRISON

“Kristien Hemmerechts didn’t write an apology for an inhuman woman, but simply a very good novel.” —De Volkskrant

“As is the case with the best written of books, it is not what is said, but what is not said that makes the writing so accomplished.” —For Books Sake

“The narrative is impossible for the reader to escape, unknowingly and at most points unwillingly, you are dragged into her world.” —Exeposé

“The naturalness of this reconstruction of a life is mind-blowing” —PANTHEON BOEKHANDEL