When I was learning Spanish, my friend Xavier made a suggestion. He said I should try reading a book without the dictionary. He suggested that I just read a book straight through, then read it again. He said that the second time through, I would pick up a lot of words from context.
He was right.
For De eeuw van mijn vader, his idea was out of the question. Before I started reading it, I had watched some Dutch TV and studied 5 chapters in a Dutch language text book that was old enough for a tourist's arrival to be described as what happens when you get off the boat. As it happened, it was more useful than I thought. De eeuw starts with a description of the harbor and the sailmaking business.
Reading this book was all dictionary work for a long time. I also listened to a lot of Dutch but understood almost nothing.
Still, I'm planning to try Xavier's idea on this book. I read a few pages of Chapter 8 doing that, but I went back again with the dictionary. I'll try it with one chapter.