The Dutch House
At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

The Dutch House Details

TitleThe Dutch House
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 24th, 2019
PublisherHarper
ISBN-139780062963673
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Audiobook

The Dutch House Review

  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    So close to be a masterpiece, a dysfunctional family story starts in this humongous, grandiose mansion, where ex inhabitants had died and left their belongings including their portraits hanging on the walls and it ends there as we move back and forth between the timelines to read the story narrated by Danny, second child of the family. But please go and order an audiobook because TOM HANKS is fantastic, impeccable, meticulous narrator. (Yes, he is our Danny boy). So as a result paperback version So close to be a masterpiece, a dysfunctional family story starts in this humongous, grandiose mansion, where ex inhabitants had died and left their belongings including their portraits hanging on the walls and it ends there as we move back and forth between the timelines to read the story narrated by Danny, second child of the family. But please go and order an audiobook because TOM HANKS is fantastic, impeccable, meticulous narrator. (Yes, he is our Danny boy). So as a result paperback version: 4 stars Audiobook: 5 stars Let’s rounded 4.5 up to 5 celebration of master story telling stars!I started to read the book and I was about to give four stars ! Please, don’t get me wrong, I love the writing and those vivid characters, I was about to give million slaps to one of them: Yes, EVIL STEPMOM ANDREA, I’m talking about you! But slow pace and too many jumping between time lines a little exhausted me. But as soon as I learned Tom Hanks is on the board, I stopped reading and I started listening to the book with a huge smile on my face. Danny and Maeve will always stay on my mind and heart as amazing siblings. Their mother abandoned them. (Actually she was another version of Mother Theresa and she rejected to live in a mansion when too many poor people suffer out there so she left the place. She still loved her husband and she didn’t intend to leave her children. Her belief as social responsibilities always come first even it means to neglect her own family is irritated me so much! I’m not quite fan of this character. But thanks God, we have evil stepmother to hate more!) And their father passed away when he was only 53. They both lost their parents at young age but what they didn’t know they would be also homeless with great scheme her stepmother dearest had planned details with her lawyer. She got the control of the business of their father and she got the Dutch House to live with her two daughters. So she kicked her step kids out. She even tried to prevent Danny take money from trust fund for his education because Danny chose an expensive school and her own daughters couldn’t get the highest education they need, if all the money would spend for Danny’s needs. (At least her attempts were stopped by their father’s lawyer this time. I think Andrea deserved a special place in hell but in my opinion, hell would be like a spa treatment for her!) So all the losses they suffered, keep united this brother and sister against the entire world. They became each other’s priorities and supported each other for every big life decisions. (Maeve helped him to connect with his future wife even they didn’t get along for a long time and resented each other!) They grew up, but they resumed going to the Dutch House and stopped their cars in front of the place, waited to see any activity around or inside and they left. THAT BECAME THEIR ROUTINE FOR YEARS like visiting an old relative they check randomly to make sure she’ still alive!Years passed, they got old. They resumed going back there…Till one day their mother returned back and requested them to drive her to the house and finally she bangs on the door to meet with Andrea. That is the beginning of some endings! The house was like a living and functioning organism marked the milestones of the sibling’s lives and changed them forever. Past and future combined with sadness, regrets, resentments, sister and brother’s devotion, marriage, nostalgia, childhood memories, unfinished businesses, yearning for real and functional family, life decisions. As the life moved on , two siblings’ a special piece of their hearts always stayed with that house, buried there, even they thought they moved on but they couldn’t. Because house gave them hope that one day their mother could return. House made them grow up earlier. House made them connect with their maids, nanny ( also mistress of their father) and many childhood happy memories. Even they’ve kicked out, they have never left the place and the house never left them, too. It left a vulnerable scar on their mind and soul. It always stayed with them till the end of their lives.Amazing story-telling, remarkable characterization and best narration!
    more
  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsSometimes in a novel, a place is such a strong and integral part of the story that it deserves as much attention as if it were a character. The house in this novel exerts so much influence over the lives of the characters, sometimes more so than the other people in their lives. The house, with its big windows and ornate design is a symbol of success for Cyril Conroy, the self made real estate developer. To his wife Elna, it is everything that is wrong with the world, when so many others 4.5 starsSometimes in a novel, a place is such a strong and integral part of the story that it deserves as much attention as if it were a character. The house in this novel exerts so much influence over the lives of the characters, sometimes more so than the other people in their lives. The house, with its big windows and ornate design is a symbol of success for Cyril Conroy, the self made real estate developer. To his wife Elna, it is everything that is wrong with the world, when so many others have nothing. To their children, Maeve and Danny, it is where they live. As adults, it’s much more complex; it represents everything they lost. To Conroy’s second wife Andrea, it’s a possession she has to have. Narrated by Danny, the story moves back and forth from their childhood over decades, a family saga of sorts, but the Conroy family for most of the novel is just the two of them, Danny and Maeve. This is in so many ways about the past, the past they can’t let go of, the past that shapes who they become as adults. “Do you think it’s possible to ever see the past as it actually was?” Danny asks his sister Maeve. “ I see the past as it actually was,” Maeve said. Danny responds “ But we overlay the present onto the past. We look back through the lens of what we know, so we’re not seeing it as the people we were, we’re seeing it as the people we are, and that means the past has been radically altered.” ** It’s also about sibling love and sacrifice as the brilliant Maeve gives up so much of her life to care for Danny, to make sure he is okay. I was so emotionally connected to them and I loved their relationship. It was at times heartbreaking to see how deep seated these wounds of the past are for both of them .The plot, which captured me from the beginning is one the reader should discover for themselves, so no spoilers here. The bottom line is that I loved pretty much everything about the book - the writing, the characters, the story. I found it nearly perfect and it is 4.5 stars because of something in the end that I found hard to reconcile. I keep a list of favorite writers and Ann Patchett has been on that list for quite a while now. I’ve read every novel she’s published. Her characters always feel fully developed and making an emotional connection is easy because she allows us to know them. Definitely recommended! I read this with Diane and Esil as one of our ongoing buddy reads and as always appreciate their thoughts.**Quotes are from the advanced copy.I received an advanced copy of this book from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.
    more
  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    Patchett is way up there on my, can't wait for next novel, list. Her characterizations, her insight into flawed families and her wry observations of human nature, are always top notched. In this, her soon to be published novel, she follows a family for five decades, a family that is broken apart, for reasons that I cannot at this time share. Brother and sister, Maeve and Danny, are extremely close, not unexpected since they are the only ones that are there for each other through thick and thin. Patchett is way up there on my, can't wait for next novel, list. Her characterizations, her insight into flawed families and her wry observations of human nature, are always top notched. In this, her soon to be published novel, she follows a family for five decades, a family that is broken apart, for reasons that I cannot at this time share. Brother and sister, Maeve and Danny, are extremely close, not unexpected since they are the only ones that are there for each other through thick and thin. Danny is our narrator, and from a young age, we are let into his thoughts and the actions of the other characters.Dutch House, a house that their father bought to surprise their mother, is as much a character in this story, as are the actual characters. It is the cause of much of what happens here, a house with huge window that allows one to see all through the house. We follow not only the house itself, but the brother and sister as they grow, through their triumphs and losses. Sibling strength and family loyalty.It is a novel of obsession but also of acceptance and forgiveness. The end, in a way comes full circle, but not without much heartache and loss. There were a few things that sparked the doubting Thomas in me, but all in all this is a wonderful read.Another read with Angela and Esil, and though our ratings do differ a bit, we all enjoyed this novel.ARC by Edelweiss.
    more
  • Peter
    January 1, 1970
    AttachedThe Dutch House is a story of siblings, Danny and Maeve Conroy, their obsessive connection with the iconic family house they lived in as young children and how their lives unfolded over the years. The story is narrated by Danny over multiple non-linear time periods. The various time jumps and reflections back to important events felt like a jigsaw puzzle being built, where there is the uncertainty of the next piece but once it is placed, the complete picture becomes clearer and clearer. AttachedThe Dutch House is a story of siblings, Danny and Maeve Conroy, their obsessive connection with the iconic family house they lived in as young children and how their lives unfolded over the years. The story is narrated by Danny over multiple non-linear time periods. The various time jumps and reflections back to important events felt like a jigsaw puzzle being built, where there is the uncertainty of the next piece but once it is placed, the complete picture becomes clearer and clearer. This is a wonderful skill Ann Patchett possesses and you never feel lost or confused as she manages the time transitions so deftly. The other major hallmark of Ann Patchett is her development of amazing characters and relationships. Maeve is Danny’s older sister of 7 years, she is very intelligent, a diabetic, caring to the extreme for her brother, and a character that captivates. Danny is much more emotionally reserved and his development into adulthood is interesting to watch. While he takes advantage of top-class education in medicine he can’t shake his love for his father’s business in real estate. Their mother is a memory, having left them when they were young and the story starts with their father bringing Andrea home to visit. Andrea eventually becomes his wife, their new mother and the force that shapes the future relationships and living conditions. “Mothers were the measure of safety, which meant that I was safer than Maeve. After our mother left, Maeve took up the job on my behalf but no one did the same for her.” It’s not too long before Andrea's own two daughters become her sole focus and ambition, and the existing family and staff are unwelcome reminders of a past she wasn’t part of. Andrea is an intriguing character, dispassionate, harsh, and greedy, and heir to the Dutch House mansion. Early in the marriage “It also seemed pretty clear he had married the wrong woman. If we all kept to our own corners it was easier for everyone.”After only a few years of marriage, their father dies and leaves the house and business to Andrea who repays his memory by putting both Maeve and Danny out, to never set foot in their home again. This starts an obsessive periodic pilgrimage for Danny and Maeve where they return to the street to sit in a car parked across from the Dutch House and gaze at it recalling memories and wondering how life would have panned out – if only. The emotional baggage they carry together drives them forward but also restricts their successes and paths taken. The psychological burden of seeking happiness and fulfilment, while tied to past commitments and motivations is cleverly layered throughout the story.I didn’t feel any great pace in the novel and at times wished it would move along in a more compelling rate. The house, while a connecting point, didn’t really have any character and increasingly the story is told away from it. It may be suggested that the house is the central aspect of the story but I would disagree feeling it more appropriate to consider the deep, caring, loving and supportive relationship between a brother and sister growing up with only each other to depend on and if that connection in itself had a restricting effect on how their lives developed.I would recommend this book and I’d like to thank Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an early ARC copy in return for an honest review.
    more
  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    Ann Patchett's latest novel proves to be a absolute delight to read with its echoes of the darkest of fairytales with the requisite wicked stepmother in the form of Andrea. We are provided with Patchett's acute understanding and keen observational insights of what it is to be human, the complex nature of family and the dysfunctional dynamics that proliferate. Shortly after WW2, Cyril Conroy's life catapults from poverty into wealth which propels him to buy the architectural jewel that is the Dut Ann Patchett's latest novel proves to be a absolute delight to read with its echoes of the darkest of fairytales with the requisite wicked stepmother in the form of Andrea. We are provided with Patchett's acute understanding and keen observational insights of what it is to be human, the complex nature of family and the dysfunctional dynamics that proliferate. Shortly after WW2, Cyril Conroy's life catapults from poverty into wealth which propels him to buy the architectural jewel that is the Dutch House with its many windows in the Pennsylvania suburbs for his wife, Elna, a house that is to splinter his family apart. As the narrative moves back and forth in time through five decades, the house turns out to be an integral part and trigger for the dramas that ensue, the highs and the lows. Danny grew up with little memory of his mother who left so early in his life, and his father is a distant figure, contributing to the strong bond with his older sister, the bright and determined Maeve, a woman of substance who takes on the mantle of caring and protecting him. Cyril brings Andrea into the lives of Maeve and Danny, and goes on to marry her. Andrea, with her children, is driven by ambition that inform her behaviour and decisions, catalysts for how events pan out in the house and family interactions until Cyril's dies, leaving Andrea with everything. Andrea reacts by throwing Maeve and Danny out. The siblings are pushed out of their privileged and comfortable lives, finding themselves facing a life of poverty and challenges with only each other to rely on. Maeve dedicates her life to Danny at the expense of her own life and ambitions, with both positive and negative outcomes, although their future lives are to be shaped by their constant obsession with the house and their inability to let go of the past.Patchett writes a compulsive novel of family, sibling relationships, secrets, memories that can so often turn out to be unreliable, coming to terms with what life can throw at you, grief, loss, love and forgiveness. It is beautifully written, with rich, atmospheric vibrant descriptions and with Patchett's stellar and skilful characterisation and development, she has an uncanny capacity to give us pictures of emotional and meaningful depth of her characters interior lives. This is a brilliant, thought provoking, multilayered, complicated and well crafted book infused with a wryness and humour that made it such a memorable read. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.
    more
  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    E-book - ( own)... and Audiobook.... ( own), narrated by Tom Hanks. Having read and loved other books by Patchett, [“Commwealth”, “Bel Canto”, “State of Wonder”, “This Is The Story of A Happy Marriage”, and “Run”], plus all the raving early reviews - I was looking forward to reading this. And now I’ve joined the choir with other readers and friends singing....“This is a wonderful novel”. I pre-ordered the ebook months ago - soon to learn that my High School boyfriend- [haha]- Tommy Hanks - was r E-book - ( own)... and Audiobook.... ( own), narrated by Tom Hanks. Having read and loved other books by Patchett, [“Commwealth”, “Bel Canto”, “State of Wonder”, “This Is The Story of A Happy Marriage”, and “Run”], plus all the raving early reviews - I was looking forward to reading this. And now I’ve joined the choir with other readers and friends singing....“This is a wonderful novel”. I pre-ordered the ebook months ago - soon to learn that my High School boyfriend- [haha]- Tommy Hanks - was reading the Audiobook....so I purchased the Audiobook as well. TOM HANKS was FLAWLESS in reading this novel. Man, he made this book come alive!!! Tom was so darn good - it was easy to be fooled that he was reading his own memoir. Mixing a gifted author with the enormously talented actor, is like finding a FRUIT LOOP in a bowl of CHEERIOS.....( Danny did eat Cheerios for breakfast in this story).Tom Hanks, as narrator, ( cast as Danny Conroy ), delivers Ann Patchett’s novel’s as if he ‘is’ Danny. Hank disappears - and what we are left with is this bright, funny, kid/guy: Danny!!Danny’s devotion to his sister, Maeve, (7 years older than him), is deeply moving. Their relationship is major and memorable. Danny was innocent - uniformed - unenlightened - incognizant in ways - yet when it came to his sister, Maeve, he knew more about her than anyone. He was always looking at her - observing her - loving her - immensely loyal to her. “The story of my sister, was the only story I was meant to tell”....says Danny. “The Dutch House” is a brother-sister psychodrama about wealth, loss of family, sibling loyalty, anger, desire, resentment, love, forgiveness, etc. Danny and Maeve grew up in a luxurious mansion outside of Philadelphia, known as the Dutch House.....(named for previous owners cigarette moguls of Dutch heritage). The details of the house - the descriptions of the rooms - the cook & housekeeper - the family complexities- of mother - father - stepmother - siblings - wives - sickness - college - marriage - divorce - emotional attachments - abandonment - sadness - hope -past & future - is exquisitely impactful. As the story moves along, the house feels like another character. I came to see ‘the house’ as synonymous with family - heartbreaks-and heartwarming. Patchett’s storytelling is bighearted and smart. It’s one of those books that seems to be alive.... with a beating heartbeat. Ann Patchett is an expert at exploring psychological depths beneath the surface of her characters. Every character was easy to imagine. Ann Patchett shared what sparked her narrative for ‘The Dutch House’. She said.... “The Book really started with me thinking about a person who didn’t want to be rich. There’s so much celebration around money, and I thought, ‘what if somebody just wanted to walk away from it all?’ I began thinking about the repercussions of one person‘s decision — how one person‘s decision really changes the path of so many lives. When Danny and Maeve lost the house, she couldn’t get over it. And I think that’s true for a lot of us. Something has happened in our lives, and even if our lives go on to be quite wonderful, we hang on to the hurt.”5 fabulous stars!
    more
  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    What a freaking masterpiece this is!!Let's begin with prior to reading this book, I was impartial on books by Ann Patchett. I previously had only read Commonwealth and liked it, but it wasn't something I would climb to the top of a mountain and yell about. This book is.I'm not going to get into the summary because I went in as blind as I could (I requested an ARC on NG and EW purely on the fact that it was Ann Patchett and I LOVED the cover) and I think that benefited me. I had no expectations w What a freaking masterpiece this is!!Let's begin with prior to reading this book, I was impartial on books by Ann Patchett. I previously had only read Commonwealth and liked it, but it wasn't something I would climb to the top of a mountain and yell about. This book is.I'm not going to get into the summary because I went in as blind as I could (I requested an ARC on NG and EW purely on the fact that it was Ann Patchett and I LOVED the cover) and I think that benefited me. I had no expectations whatsoever. Within the first few pages I was hooked. Ms. Patchett's beautiful writing had my jaw on the floor. I am in awe of her talent and it played out so well in my mind that I was in that house with them. I was sitting next to them in the car. I was the fly on the wall. I was there.If you like books that make you feel a spectrum of emotions with a side of laughter for a few quirky characters - than this book is absolutely a MUST READ. I experienced being vehemently angry, to laughing out loud to such utter sadness...If this isn't made into a series on TV or a movie, I don't know what is wrong with people. The characters in this story (my favorite is Maeve hands down) are so complex and relatable and REAL. You hate them, you forgive them, you desperately love them. I cannot say enough good things about it. I love books that make me feel something and this one did, a million times over. Thank you to Edelweiss, Harpercollins and Ann Patchett for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.Review Date: 09/27/19Publication Date: 09/24/19
    more
  • Larry H
    January 1, 1970
    "But we overlay the present onto the past. We look back through the lens of what we know now, so we're not seeing it as the people we were, we're seeing it as the people we are, and that means the past has been radically altered."Siblings Danny and Maeve Conroy grew up in The Dutch House, a lavish home in the Philadelphia suburbs. Once the home of a Dutch family that owned most of the area, their artwork and interior decorating still remain throughout the infamous estate. While their real-estate "But we overlay the present onto the past. We look back through the lens of what we know now, so we're not seeing it as the people we were, we're seeing it as the people we are, and that means the past has been radically altered."Siblings Danny and Maeve Conroy grew up in The Dutch House, a lavish home in the Philadelphia suburbs. Once the home of a Dutch family that owned most of the area, their artwork and interior decorating still remain throughout the infamous estate. While their real-estate-investor father loves the house and sees it as a jewel in his empire, their mother was repulsed by all the infamous home represented, and she left when Danny was very young.Left with a father generally incapable of doing more than providing the material comforts for his children, Maeve helped raise Danny, with the help of the family's two housekeepers. The two siblings, despite their age difference, formed an unshakable bond, one which became even more crucial when their father married again, this time a younger woman with two young daughters of her own. Their stepmother's dislike of them was apparent to them from the very start, although their father seemed oblivious and/or disinterested in her treatment of them, as he was more interested in keeping the peace in his household than anything else.When their stepmother gets the opportunity, she exiles Danny and Maeve from the house—and cuts off their access to any of the money that should be theirs. Left with nothing, they are forced to fend for themselves and have only each other to survive. And while they cannot seem to get The Dutch House out of their minds, given that it was such an enormous part of their lives, they want more than anything to understand the actions of their parents, which led them to where they are now. While this isn't a suspenseful book, there are a few surprises that are better to unfold as you read it rather than have them revealed. This is a book that was paced a lot slower than I like, but there is a lot of richness to behold, including emotion, nostalgia, family dynamics, and even a little humor. What fascinated me even more is what a major character the house itself played, much like in Howards End or Rebecca .I've been a big fan of Ann Patchett's since reading Bel Canto a number of years ago. I love the way she tells a story. (Her nonfiction is excellent, too—check out Truth and Beauty or This is the Story of a Happy Marriage .) I have enjoyed some of her other books more than this one, but it's still worth a read, and I believe both Patchett fans and those who've never read her work will enjoy this, especially those who like stories of family relationships gone awry.See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html. You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
    more
  • Esil
    January 1, 1970
    Awfully close to 5 stars!The Dutch House is full of the stuff I love in fiction. It’s really well written, has great characters, is original and feels like a big meaty story I could get lost in. Danny is the narrator. He grew up in the grandiose Dutch House with his sister, Maeve, and his father. What happens to his mother is a mystery that unravels over time. But the fallout from her disappearance is a very strong bond between Danny and Maeve, and a cascade of emotional and other consequences f Awfully close to 5 stars!The Dutch House is full of the stuff I love in fiction. It’s really well written, has great characters, is original and feels like a big meaty story I could get lost in. Danny is the narrator. He grew up in the grandiose Dutch House with his sister, Maeve, and his father. What happens to his mother is a mystery that unravels over time. But the fallout from her disappearance is a very strong bond between Danny and Maeve, and a cascade of emotional and other consequences for everyone. At the centre of the novel is the house — loved and reviled depending on the character. In the end, there is a symmetry to the story that is emotionally wrought and complex. This is not an easy story with straightforward characters. But it’s very readable. I read this one as a buddy read with Angela and Diane, and it definitely works well as a buddy read because there’s much to discuss — especially the end. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
    more
  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    A grand house with grand siblings insideA house? Really? I want people, not inanimate objects! I thought the house would be bigger than the people in it, but thank god I was wrong. I ended up loving the place. Hell, I’d go to an open house there any day. Damn straight I’d like to snoop around.The cover and the title scared me. A painting of an uptight, upright woman on the cover, and “Dutch House” as the title—sounds like we might have some snooty going on here. Is reading this going to feel lik A grand house with grand siblings insideA house? Really? I want people, not inanimate objects! I thought the house would be bigger than the people in it, but thank god I was wrong. I ended up loving the place. Hell, I’d go to an open house there any day. Damn straight I’d like to snoop around.The cover and the title scared me. A painting of an uptight, upright woman on the cover, and “Dutch House” as the title—sounds like we might have some snooty going on here. Is reading this going to feel like being held prisoner in a museum? Because I’m here to tell you, museums are famous for keeping it dull, and I definitely smelled a museum. It just hit me that I wouldn’t have been putting on the brakes if the house were some funky, colorful place (with a chartreuse washstand and a periwinkle china cabinet)—in other words, a house I’d like to explore. A rich person’s house—high ceilings, mature rugs, huge art? Yawn city. But let’s face it, I would read anything Ann Patchett writes—uptight, upright, museum-y or not, I was all in. So I sighed and dug in, already mad that I was going to be dropped into dens of description! I needed an attitude adjustment, because of course this huge house, as I predicted, was being described in huge detail. Chill! I sat there all tense, poised and ready to jump ship if I had to. But immediately the writing adjusted my attitude, as Patchett did her typical skillful thing and grabbed me into her story. And we’re talking two pages in. I was hooked.This is the story of Danny and Mauve, a brother and sister who are joined at the hip. Danny is the narrator, and he’s just a kid when the story starts. I liked him immediately. Mauve takes care of Danny, and he adores her. All they have, really, is each other. When two siblings are alone against the world, they are imprinted on each other for life; the bond is greater than any other. Danny and Mauve fit the bill. Watching their devotion to each other was so touching. Their lives change suddenly (and the house is big during this fateful moment) and they need each other even more. The book follows them through five decades. As the kids became adults, I got more and more attached to them; I was invested in the choices they made and cringed more than once at their behavior. Patchett knows how to make you believe them, trust them, love them.The house is at first a grand place but all the sudden it isn’t. The house means different things to different people and it’s a constant in the book, always there for people to react to. Throughout the book, we have Danny and Mauve sitting in a car in front of the house, reminiscing. Right there, Patchett has me in the palm of her hand. Why on earth are they just sitting there? Can’t they go in? Why do they sit there time and again? Slowly the story gets revealed.I’ve been a Patchett fan for a long time, and every time I finish one of her books, I feel so completely satisfied (with the exception of Bel Canto). Yet I always sort of frown and try to figure out Patchett’s secret. Well, of course, there’s the fact that her writing is dynamite. And she creates nuanced characters, has a lot of insight into the human condition, and keeps the story moving along, usually rather quietly (there’s never over-the-top melodrama—never). Her presentation is complicated but smooth. We go back and forth in time, but she sets it up in a way that lets me happily accept the jumps.Patchett’s tone is pretty formal, which always puts me off at first because I worry it will keep me from feeling close to the characters; it will create a distance. But here’s the scoop: Maybe I can’t get super close because she’s got a wall up, but she gets me to peek over the wall to see the fascinating party she’s throwing, and it’s as good as a front-row seat. With all of her books, the formality soon becomes invisible to me and I am all in, attached to the characters and wanting to find out, right that minute, how they are going to fare. I desperately wanted to know how Danny’s and Mauve’s life would turn out. The story didn’t disappoint.In terms of scope, tone, setting, and depth, this book seems like a throwback to masterpieces written in the 1700s and 1800s; there is a classic and epic feel to it. Having a grand mansion as the setting helps. As in classics, Patchett does give lots of details of things that by themselves aren’t interesting, but she ends up painting a vivid picture that sets a perfect stage for the action going down, and you feel like you’re right there.This editor twitches a couple of times. There are a few tiny problems, which might be fixed by publication date:-Mauve’s workplace is described twice. Haven’t I read this before?-Kids don’t talk this way! Way too mature-sounding! Happened enough times to annoy me.-Common error: she said she “could have cared less” when she meant that she “couldn’t have cared less.”The reason I’m giving this book 4 stars instead of 5 is that I had trouble believing the mom. I just didn’t think what she did was realistic (plus I bigtime didn’t approve of it). Also, there is a theme of forgiveness at the end, which I also didn’t buy (or like). Even though there isn’t a religious theme going on, I think religion is a very tricky undercurrent.All in all, a good read, though. Patchett is a master.Thanks to Edelweiss for the advance copy.
    more
  • Umut Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    This was a great book with Ann Patchett's signature writing. She's the queen of family sagas and this is no different. 'The Dutch House' refers to a mansion Meave and Danny live with their parents. We go through the lives of these siblings from their childhood to quite late in their lives. Their mother leaves suddenly without a word one day when they were children, and they never knew why. We go through the next phase of their lives after this event till they are old basically. If you haven't re This was a great book with Ann Patchett's signature writing. She's the queen of family sagas and this is no different. 'The Dutch House' refers to a mansion Meave and Danny live with their parents. We go through the lives of these siblings from their childhood to quite late in their lives. Their mother leaves suddenly without a word one day when they were children, and they never knew why. We go through the next phase of their lives after this event till they are old basically. If you haven't read Ann Patchett before, you need to know that her books are very much character driven, not plot driven. We go through the life span of a family and witness their lives. In this book, the focus was the 2 siblings and their tight relationship. Meave and Danny were a delight to follow. I even envied their unshaken closeness and love for each other as an only child :) They go through a lot together and their support for each other helps them achieve in life. Of course there are lots of other characters, but they are revolving around this brother & sister. I love Patchett's writing. It's very slow, but very immersive. Before you know it, you're drawn to these characters and want to know what's going on in their simple lives. I . was thinking of the book when I wasn't reading it, and wanted to return to it for sure. For people who love slow, character driven stories that goes on for a lifetime, Ann Patchett is the address :) The Waterstones edition with its sprayed edges is a delight! And, the book cover is exquisite. Not only it's beautiful. but it's very related to the book, so it makes it extra special.
    more
  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    For no reason, I’ve never read Patchett and I’ve been missing out. This is an intelligent novel that is almost a fable including an evil stepmonster but it’s the house that looms large. A house that represents success, greed, loss, sadness and, ultimately, forgiveness. A wife is desperately unhappy, close siblings are eventually ousted and many lives are deeply affected by the house and what it means to each character. Patchett has a deft touch and now I’ll have the pleasure of reading her other For no reason, I’ve never read Patchett and I’ve been missing out. This is an intelligent novel that is almost a fable including an evil stepmonster but it’s the house that looms large. A house that represents success, greed, loss, sadness and, ultimately, forgiveness. A wife is desperately unhappy, close siblings are eventually ousted and many lives are deeply affected by the house and what it means to each character. Patchett has a deft touch and now I’ll have the pleasure of reading her other work.
    more
  • Doug
    January 1, 1970
    A HUGE thanx to Netgalley and HarperCollins for a review copy of this book, in exchange for this honest review. I've only read two other Patchett books, but she has already become a favorite author, and I was very excited to be granted this ARC months prior to its publication in late Sept., since her last novel, Commonwealth, made it into my top 5 reads for 2016 - and I am fairly confident this one will do likewise for 2019.The storyline follows somewhat similar ground as that previous book, bei A HUGE thanx to Netgalley and HarperCollins for a review copy of this book, in exchange for this honest review. I've only read two other Patchett books, but she has already become a favorite author, and I was very excited to be granted this ARC months prior to its publication in late Sept., since her last novel, Commonwealth, made it into my top 5 reads for 2016 - and I am fairly confident this one will do likewise for 2019.The storyline follows somewhat similar ground as that previous book, being, more or less, an intricate family saga covering decades of the ins and outs of the Conroy family, and in particular, how the titular family manse outside Philadelphia impacts and impedes various relationships. The focus is primarily on a pair of siblings, with younger brother Danny doing the narrating, and once again Patchett does not follow a linear chronology, but weaves the stories back and forwards from the late 40's to the early 2000's. I sometimes had trouble following this in her previous book, since there was a plethora of characters to keep straight, but this is an easier go, since there are really only about a dozen characters in total. Although Patchett's prose is not fussy or overtly calls attention to itself, it always flows beautifully and is a pleasure to luxuriate in. Just the kind of lovely, leisurely read one wants/needs for the beginning of summer. I hope it is a tremendous success for her.
    more
  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 StarsThis is the third book of Patchett’s that I’ve read, the first being State of Wonder, the second, Commonwealth, and this is one adds to the proof that she was born to write these complex family dramas where each character equally shares the wounds of all involved. A little like a fairy tale flipped upside-down, this story includes an imposing, castle-like house, which seems to affect each character differently, as though abiding inside these walls seems to create an entirely different 4.5 StarsThis is the third book of Patchett’s that I’ve read, the first being State of Wonder, the second, Commonwealth, and this is one adds to the proof that she was born to write these complex family dramas where each character equally shares the wounds of all involved. A little like a fairy tale flipped upside-down, this story includes an imposing, castle-like house, which seems to affect each character differently, as though abiding inside these walls seems to create an entirely different relationship between the house and each character. It begins as World War II is ending, and this then poor young family who have been living in base housing, living a happy, if simple life find their world upended when the father, Cyril, buys a house – unbeknownst to his young wife and young daughter, Maeve. The wife, Elna, is… well, impressed by the house, but the impression isn’t a good one, and she can’t imagine how this house could be theirs when they are poor. Something must be wrong beyond her feeling that this is far too ostentatious for her to ever feel comfortable living in. As the story moves along, the house becomes more and more like another character, creating tension as time passes, and representing the failures of the past as well as the shattered hopes and dreams for the members of this family, as well. As time passes, it continues to pull both Danny and his sister Maeve back time and again to confront their feelings of anger and their regrets over the past. Narrated by the son, Danny, it seemed as though these were stories shared by and about real people, and imparted with the grace and dignity offered to cherished loved ones. Pub Date: 24 Sep 2019Many thanks to HarperCollins Publishers, Harper
    more
  • PorshaJo
    January 1, 1970
    I a big fan of Ann Patchett. I've read a number of her books, saw her speak a few times, even went to her bookstore while on a work trip through Nashville. Needless to say, there was no doubt I would read this one and like it. I've yet to read anything that she writes and not like it. I still have a few of her books to read (that I have copies of, even signed copies of books) but feel like I don't want to rush. I always want to have one of her books available to read. I know it's odd. But on to I a big fan of Ann Patchett. I've read a number of her books, saw her speak a few times, even went to her bookstore while on a work trip through Nashville. Needless to say, there was no doubt I would read this one and like it. I've yet to read anything that she writes and not like it. I still have a few of her books to read (that I have copies of, even signed copies of books) but feel like I don't want to rush. I always want to have one of her books available to read. I know it's odd. But on to The Dutch House.The Dutch House is a slow moving family story, a sad family story. The story goes back and forth in time, over five decades, telling us about the lives of Danny and Maeve Conroy. Danny and Maeve grew up, to a point, in The Dutch House. As with any Ann Patchett story, I wanted it to end a different way. Perhaps that's just me. You hear from the time when Danny and Maeve are small children, until very much later in life, and that house. The Dutch House plays such a strong role in the story, but also in the lives of anyone who has been in that house. It has this pull, this allure, that Danny and Maeve are almost, many times, living the in past and remembering their time in that house. Even though the story is one of such a fractured family, the bond between Danny and Maeve are so strong. It kept me pushing to finish to hear more.As soon as it was available, I begged my library for the audio version. I was the first to get it! Yeah! Tom Hanks narrated the story. At first, I thought I might not like the narration. I love Tom Hanks (who doesn't) but was afraid it would just not work. I thought he did a good job, sometimes I thought maybe a bit much. But I was so drawn into the story. I often listen while working in the kitchen and was looking for things to do, just so I could hear more. The story was quite slow at times but I liked it (hence 4 stars). I can't say this is my favorite of hers. Bel Canto will forever be my favorite. One I should probably re-read, or perhaps one of her's I'm savoring on my shelves will be next in line.
    more
  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    The Dutch House is the story of a family, and a very distinguished house, and the ways in which that combination played on everyone’s lives and relationships. It is also a story of the ways in which a person’s life can be altered, hemmed in, defined, expanded, most definitely changed, for good or ill, by significant others and even a place. Also a story of fighting, or not fighting, those influences to live one’s own life.And a wonderful story it is. Ann Patchett is an excellent writer, able to The Dutch House is the story of a family, and a very distinguished house, and the ways in which that combination played on everyone’s lives and relationships. It is also a story of the ways in which a person’s life can be altered, hemmed in, defined, expanded, most definitely changed, for good or ill, by significant others and even a place. Also a story of fighting, or not fighting, those influences to live one’s own life.And a wonderful story it is. Ann Patchett is an excellent writer, able to capture her characters and settings so well. Some we learn about quickly; others develop or evolve more slowly. The Dutch House is itself a character in this novel as its presence is a factor in much of the major activity throughout. It is an old mansion purchased by Mr Conroy as surprise for his wife who had no idea he had somehow become rich.In the beginning, there were Maeve and Danny Conroy, children of Cyril and Elna Conroy. Elna has been gone from their lives since Danny was a toddler, leaving him with no memory of her. Maeve, being older, has fond, loving memories. Family rumor is Elna apparently left for India years before. Father seems a somewhat standoff type man, showing occasional moments of warm emotion. True warmth comes from support staff needed to care for the house and children, Sandy and Jocelyn, who provide motherly care. Danny narrates the novel.Beyond that well...then it is how life develops. I do not want to walk you through the ups and downs and sometimes odd decisions made during the years as Danny and Maeve mature and make life choices. That’s for you to read. And I do recommend you read this book. It’s a primer on the directions and misdirections life can take as people try to deal with the remnants of their childhood. It’s also a very vivid portrayal of the relationship of a brother and sister from the teen years into adulthood, as their lives change.4.5* - 5* A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
    more
  • Eric Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    There are some novels where I instantly feel connected to the narrator as if he were an old friend. Something about the way Ann Patchett presents her central character of Danny Conroy in her new novel “The Dutch House” hooked me to his consciousness. Maybe it's the tone of his wide-eyed innocence and ignorance as he looks back at his childhood, family life and the home he was cast out of. It's a sensibility I can relate to now that I'm in my early 40s and think back to the mysteries of my early There are some novels where I instantly feel connected to the narrator as if he were an old friend. Something about the way Ann Patchett presents her central character of Danny Conroy in her new novel “The Dutch House” hooked me to his consciousness. Maybe it's the tone of his wide-eyed innocence and ignorance as he looks back at his childhood, family life and the home he was cast out of. It's a sensibility I can relate to now that I'm in my early 40s and think back to the mysteries of my early life wondering why certain decisions were made. Danny and his sister Maeve grow up in a grand house with a prosperous father, but their mother abandoned them in their childhood. When their father marries a new woman named Andrea who brings her own two daughters into the house, the Conroy children feel themselves growing even more estranged from their aloof father. In their teenage years they are unceremoniously ousted from their family home and must fend for themselves. Danny recounts this story and the haunting way he and his sister often linger outside the house they've been cast out of ruminating about the past and the truth about their family. In a way, every adult must feel this way reflecting on what Joyce Carol Oates calls “the lost landscape” of childhood. Patchett also poses a number of tantalizing mysteries about this particular family which kept me gripped and I admire the subtle way she raises lingering questions to do with the meaning of family, belonging and home. Read my full review of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett on LonesomeReader
    more
  • Bianca
    January 1, 1970
    This is only the second Ann Patchett novel I read.The Dutch House is aptly named - the majestic house at its centre was built on the outskirts of Philadelphia by the VanHoebeek's who had immigrated to the US before the WWI. The business-savvy Cyril Conroy buys the house and everything in it to surprise his wife, Elma and their young children, Maeve and Danny. Overwhelmed by the huge change from living frugally in a very small house to living in a grand old house, with a cook, a cleaner and a nan This is only the second Ann Patchett novel I read.The Dutch House is aptly named - the majestic house at its centre was built on the outskirts of Philadelphia by the VanHoebeek's who had immigrated to the US before the WWI. The business-savvy Cyril Conroy buys the house and everything in it to surprise his wife, Elma and their young children, Maeve and Danny. Overwhelmed by the huge change from living frugally in a very small house to living in a grand old house, with a cook, a cleaner and a nanny, the young mother eventually abandons her family.Written from Danny's point of view, this is a novel about family, abandonment and its effects, hanging on the past and not letting go. Danny's sister, Maeve, seven years his senior, becomes his mentor and protector, while the two sisters working as cook and cleaner, respectively, take on the caring roles.When things get worse for the two siblings, their relationship is what gives them strength, their intelligence and ambition what propels them further to outward success.The Dutch House features prominently throughout the novel. Detested, loved, admired, longed for, the house pulls at the hearts and memories of those who lived in it.Spanning over five decades, at times, the story sags as it becomes quite mundane. But it's very readable; the details, the little scenes and recollections make it very lifelike. You know how it is, you're a teen, then you study, begin your grown-up life and then, bam! you wonder what happened to time, when did you get to be forty, fifty etc. The last quarter picks up the pace, quite a lot happens.I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, the characterisations were excellent, the descriptions, of the house in particular, were quite vivid. The siblings' relationship was incredibly tight and unique.This was different, in a good way. Highly recommended. I've received this novel via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Jessica Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    I cannot explain why Ann Patchett is so good because while I read her books, I am so engrossed and involved that I do not have the capability to figure it out. That would mean letting go of the story, slowing down or stopping, not letting myself get pulled along deeper and deeper. Her prose and her plots are often (though not always) simple. I cannot tell why I am absolutely mesmerized, I just am. It is simply something to be accepted, and something to be treasured.THE DUTCH HOUSE left me with a I cannot explain why Ann Patchett is so good because while I read her books, I am so engrossed and involved that I do not have the capability to figure it out. That would mean letting go of the story, slowing down or stopping, not letting myself get pulled along deeper and deeper. Her prose and her plots are often (though not always) simple. I cannot tell why I am absolutely mesmerized, I just am. It is simply something to be accepted, and something to be treasured.THE DUTCH HOUSE left me with an emotional hangover I still haven't quite recovered from a day later. It worked its slow, sneaky magic on me until I was at its mercy. At first I did not quite see where it would take me, a few plot twists surprised me, but by the last third even when I knew exactly what was going to happen I felt helpless, watching, weeping, carried along by its tide. The themes of the novel are ones that hit me very deeply, which certainly added to my experience. The mystery of parents to their children, the way we see others' mistakes so clearly and then make the very same mistakes ourselves, the way the experience inside a single family can feel drastically different to everyone in it. And on top of all of that is a question of forgiveness, its blessings and its limits. Forgiveness is something I think about a lot, as I am very very bad at it, but this story is not entirely sold on it either and the sometimes-arbitrary way we deem some people worthy of forgiveness and others absolutely undeserving is one of those tricks of human nature the novel uses to full effect.Danny, our narrator, begins the novel as a child. His mother has left so long ago he barely remembers her. His father is distant. His sister Maeve, seven years older, is his parent and his closest confidant. Their father is in real estate, and they live in the titular house, an architectural marvel in the Philadelphia suburbs in the mid-20th century, filled with the belongings of the prior inhabitants, the kind of people who have giant portraits of themselves hanging on the wall. As the novel starts, their father brings home a woman, bringing a massive change to the small family. Maeve is the center of the story, and she remains throughout Danny's life the center of his world. As their family changes and then crumbles, Maeve is all that Danny has and she is devoted to his success. While Maeve loves Danny deeply, she also uses him as a tool to take out her revenge against their stepmother, something Danny is not all that interested in doing, but he doesn't put up much of a fight. Over the years they try to learn more about their closed-off father and their missing mother, needing to build up a family mythology and a deeper understanding of how it all went wrong. By the end of the novel, this small story has taken on an epic scale. I love it when a domestic plot can take on the kinds of choices and betrayals that lead to overwhelming emotions. Patchett does that so well in this book, slowly laying the groundwork, making the stakes clear, sketching the characters in minute detail, so when you reach the end you may find yourself unable to stop reading, sobbing on the couch. (Or maybe that's just me.) A rewarding, fulfilling novel.
    more
  • Betsy Robinson
    January 1, 1970
    What a luscious reading experience—a quietly riveting plot, masterful transitions and character development, people so real I could feel their breath and body heat, and an ending that filled and broke my heart.I love this book, but it's not an ordinary reader's love. It's familial. The best way I can express it is to say that if The Dutch House and my first novel (Plan Z by Leslie Kove) and my mother's first novel (The Trouble with the Truth) were sisters, The Dutch House would be our middle sib What a luscious reading experience—a quietly riveting plot, masterful transitions and character development, people so real I could feel their breath and body heat, and an ending that filled and broke my heart.I love this book, but it's not an ordinary reader's love. It's familial. The best way I can express it is to say that if The Dutch House and my first novel (Plan Z by Leslie Kove) and my mother's first novel (The Trouble with the Truth) were sisters, The Dutch House would be our middle sibling. This book makes me miss my long-dead mother because I feel as if she should know about it. And I should be able to talk with her about the fact that I read it just after learning that the new new-owners demolished the house my mother built, which always seemed to me like a live being with roots deep in my psyche, even long after we gave it up in 1968. Even though I and my siblings had terrible memories of our life there, during the 48 years that the people we sold it to lived there, we each individually made pilgrimages to visit or just look at the house. And it just seems unfair that now my mother and I cannot mourn the demise of her creation while reading and admiring The Dutch House—while as writers, we marvel at everything from the gorgeous cover art by painter Noah Saterstrom (what a daring artist) to the story about a family and a house, which is so reminiscent yet completely different from both of our work that I have a very hard time believing we are not all related. I wish we were.
    more
  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    Danny Conroy and his sister, Maeve, grow up in the architectural masterpiece that is the Dutch House, a 1920s mansion in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. It’s a building with huge, wide windows, giving every passerby the opportunity to look inside. A function reflected by Danny’s narration. He offers a way in, clear-eyed but still intensely personal. It’s a story about everything and nothing, detailing how family dynamics are affected by the Dutch House and each other. It’s a dream for book clubs, ful Danny Conroy and his sister, Maeve, grow up in the architectural masterpiece that is the Dutch House, a 1920s mansion in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. It’s a building with huge, wide windows, giving every passerby the opportunity to look inside. A function reflected by Danny’s narration. He offers a way in, clear-eyed but still intensely personal. It’s a story about everything and nothing, detailing how family dynamics are affected by the Dutch House and each other. It’s a dream for book clubs, full to the brim of characters that affect you in ways that are as much due to the real people of whom they remind you as their roles within the story. It’s full of questions that invite judgement and decisions that demand reactions. Overall, it's effectively done, more gripping than the details of the plot might suggest, and with a genuinely affecting sibling relationship at its heart. ARC via Netgalley
    more
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    The Dutch House showcases lyrical writing and first rate character development SUMMARYIn 1946, Brooklyn-born real-estate entrepreneur Cyril Conroy purchases the Dutch House in Elkins Park, outside Philadelphia, and presents it to his Wife, Elna. The 1920’s mansion comes complete with staff, life-size portraits of the original Dutch owners, a third floor ballroom, and a perfect window seat. Elna, who grew up poor, hates the extravagance of the house. She runs away to serve the poor, abandoning he The Dutch House showcases lyrical writing and first rate character development SUMMARYIn 1946, Brooklyn-born real-estate entrepreneur Cyril Conroy purchases the Dutch House in Elkins Park, outside Philadelphia, and presents it to his Wife, Elna. The 1920’s mansion comes complete with staff, life-size portraits of the original Dutch owners, a third floor ballroom, and a perfect window seat. Elna, who grew up poor, hates the extravagance of the house. She runs away to serve the poor, abandoning her 10-year-old daughter, Maeve, and three-year-old son, Danny, to the hands of their rigid and cold father.Five years later, Maeve and Danny are called downstairs to meet Conroy’s soon-to-be second wife, Andrea. The second Mrs. Conroy adores the house and all the money that goes along with it. When Cyril dies, she keeps the house and the money and dispossesses Maeve and Danny of any inheritance except for funds for Danny’s education. Danny and Maeve creatively use the education trust fund to send Danny to Choate, Columbia, and medical school, despite the simple fact he has absolutely no desire to become a doctor. REVIEWTHE DUTCH HOUSE is a perfect blend of characters, setting and story. It’s undoubtably my favorite book of the year. ANN PATCHETT has long been my favorite author, and this book is one of her best. It’s masterfully written to capture the poignant relationship and unbreakable bonds between Danny and Maeve. A grown Danny narrates the story casting his sister as his unwavering friend and protector.I didn’t want the book to end, and deliberately savored it a little slower that usual. The Dutch house vividly comes to life on the pages. We can see all the way from the driveway through the house to the conservatory, and we can see the little blue kitchen table where Danny frequently had his meals and did his homework and it is so easy to picture the large portrait hanging on the wall of the drawing room of a bright-eyed Maeve in her red coat, with her long thick black hair laying over her shoulders.The story thoughtfully explores abandonment, inheritance, obsession, family relationships, love and forgiveness. PATCHETT is a lyrical storyteller and her characters development is first rate. My favorite part of the novel is the shared moments between Danny and Maeve, sitting in Maeve’s car in front of the Dutch House long after they had been expelled from the only home they had known. THE DUTCH HOUSE is a beautiful and strong testament to sibling bonds. Thanks to Edelweiss, Harper Collins and Ann Patchett for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Publisher Harper Collins Publishers IncPublished September 24, 2019Review www.bluestockingreviews.com
    more
  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    I have to admit that I am predisposed to love everything Ann Patchett writes. That is my default setting. But the Dutch House checks all the boxes for what I consider a great book. Characters that you want to hug, slap, or invite over for dinner. Or all of the above. A story about a family and a house that demonstrates how that house can be so much more than a structure. It can represent the bones of the family, a symbol connected to love or loss or achievement or abandonment. And a bringing tog I have to admit that I am predisposed to love everything Ann Patchett writes. That is my default setting. But the Dutch House checks all the boxes for what I consider a great book. Characters that you want to hug, slap, or invite over for dinner. Or all of the above. A story about a family and a house that demonstrates how that house can be so much more than a structure. It can represent the bones of the family, a symbol connected to love or loss or achievement or abandonment. And a bringing together of people who were flung away and then return to the fold, for comfort, understanding, closure. What a pleasure to read.
    more
  • Mary Lins
    January 1, 1970
    I read Ann Patchett’s “Patron Saint of Liars”, when it came out almost 30 years ago and loved it so much that I wrote Ms. Patchett a letter praising it, and she wrote me a lovely note back. I became a fan for life, reading every one of her marvelous (and unique!) novels. So yes, I was primed to love “The Dutch House”, and I did! Not just because it’s my habit to rave about Patchett’s novels, but because it’s GREAT; it’s my new favorite!“The Dutch House”, (itself as much a character as any of the I read Ann Patchett’s “Patron Saint of Liars”, when it came out almost 30 years ago and loved it so much that I wrote Ms. Patchett a letter praising it, and she wrote me a lovely note back. I became a fan for life, reading every one of her marvelous (and unique!) novels. So yes, I was primed to love “The Dutch House”, and I did! Not just because it’s my habit to rave about Patchett’s novels, but because it’s GREAT; it’s my new favorite!“The Dutch House”, (itself as much a character as any of the humans in the novel) is in a suburb of Philadelphia. Just after WWII, Cyril Conroy buys the palatial mansion – fully and sumptuously furnished – for his wife Elna and it is where Danny and Maeve Conroy grew up. Danny is our first-person narrator and he and Maeve are a modern day Hansel and Gretel, complete with abandonment, banishment and a wicked step-mother. They even have three Fairy Godmothers: Fluffy, Sandy, and Jocelyn. “The Dutch House” is the story of a “modern family”, as this was the era when families started to become fractured and step-parents and step-siblings became more prevalent. Some of these themes Patchett explored beautifully in “Commonwealth”, and she knows whereof she speaks because she’s written essays about her own large, extended, loosely related-by-a-string, family. I was absorbed from page one, and I hated to turn the last page. What makes Patchett so accessible and relevant is her beautiful writing, her wit, and the fascinating stories she spins out of every-day life. At the most surprising, dramatic, and climactic scene in the novel Danny narrates: “I had not been born with an imagination large enough to encompass this moment.” Well, Ann Patchett was born with an imagination large enough – thank heavens! What a magnificent story!
    more
  • Bruce Katz
    January 1, 1970
    First, a confession (of sorts). I was ill when I was reading much of this book. Not a serious illness, happily, but one of those viral things that cloud vision and mind alike. Hence, I'm not clear on which reactions come from the book and which from my befuddled state. That said: I liked the book a lot. The story was addictive and the characters engaging. It's probably the most accessible of the author's books I've read, but beneath its pellucid surface lay matters of great depth. I'll leave plo First, a confession (of sorts). I was ill when I was reading much of this book. Not a serious illness, happily, but one of those viral things that cloud vision and mind alike. Hence, I'm not clear on which reactions come from the book and which from my befuddled state. That said: I liked the book a lot. The story was addictive and the characters engaging. It's probably the most accessible of the author's books I've read, but beneath its pellucid surface lay matters of great depth. I'll leave plot summaries to readers far more capable than I.The book bears within it an implicit question that expands over the course of the story. Patchett might have given it any number of titles, but naming it after the house itself can't help but intrigue. "Dutch House" as in "Bleak House"? The "House of Usher"? What is the building meant to signify? And why does it have such remarkable power over the characters, drawing them irresistably toward it again and again, propelling them away? What the Dutch House means to each person in the book is the engine that drives the story. "I was still at a point in my life," a character thinks, "when the house was the hero of every story, our lost and beloved country." But elsewhere, the same character will observe: The Dutch House was impossible. I had never thought that before. When Maeve told me that our mother had hated it, I couldn't even understand what she was saying. Time in "The Dutch House" is not linear. The story moves from past to present to future and back, and more than a few major revelations are made in an offhand manner (as in, 'many years later, when I was serving a life sentence for murder' -- NOT a real example, just meant to give an idea of what I mean: it's not central to the plot, but it's not nothing either). The effect of this temporal fluidity on the reader is less a matter of confusion than it is a lens that draws attention to how our perceptions change over time. What a young mind perceives as meaning one thing, the same mind looking back decades later understands to mean something entirely different. Even in adulthood, things are not necessarily what we take them to be.Indeed, "The Dutch House" is at its heart an examination of how flawed our perceptions can be, how mistaken our memories, how complicated our relationships and motivations, how surprisingly little we know about ourselves and the people around us. Time and again the protagonist will discover how wrong he was about something he was certain he "knew." There are a few times in life when you leap up and the past that you'd been standing on falls away behind you, and the future you mean to land on is not yet in place, and for a moment you're suspended, knowing nothing and no one, not even yourself. Such moments resonate, sometimes touchingly -- After so many years I thought less about [my father's] unwillingness to disclose and more about how stupid I'd been not to try harder. -- and sometimes with wry but insightful irony -- The truth is I have plenty of memories of her being perfectly decent. I just choose to dwell on the ones in which she wasn't. And this: 'God's truth,' Maeve said. 'Our father was a man who had never met his own wife.' There is much in "The Dutch House" to be pondered and (though I hate the word) unpacked. There are echoes of Gatsby and Dickens here, but I suspect readers will respond more with a slowly building sense of recognition in Patchett's depiction of memories, families, and motivations. I can't imagine a reader who will not pause for several moments and wonder (critically? understandingly?) at a character's behavior or decisions. (I could give some examples that I'm sure would intrigue readers of this review, but I don't want to risk sharing spoilers.)"The Dutch House" will find a broad and eager audience. It deserves to.
    more
  • ☙ percy ❧
    January 1, 1970
    "Our father was a man who had never met his own wife." I think this is a classic case of it's-not-you-it's-me. I found the writing adept but prosaic; fine for a plot-driven novel but this was more character-driven, and in these sorts of novels I prefer more "literary" fiction (even though I tend to avoid that term because of various reasons) with devices such as stream-of-consciousness, poetic prose, etc, especially if written in the first person, which this is. The writing wasn't bad by any mea "Our father was a man who had never met his own wife." I think this is a classic case of it's-not-you-it's-me. I found the writing adept but prosaic; fine for a plot-driven novel but this was more character-driven, and in these sorts of novels I prefer more "literary" fiction (even though I tend to avoid that term because of various reasons) with devices such as stream-of-consciousness, poetic prose, etc, especially if written in the first person, which this is. The writing wasn't bad by any means, and there were a couple of deft turns of phrase, but overall i just think it didn't fit with the character-driven nature of the book. This is just my preference, though, and a lot of people really enjoyed this. I'd keep away if you prefer more flowery writing in your character-driven books, but if you hate that sort of thing (which a lot of people do) then you might like this. But it just fell flat for me.
    more
  • Diana
    January 1, 1970
    Damn you, Ann Patchett. Your books, the last three in particular, have gotten me so deeply involved with your characters that I have felt bereft when they’re over. “Wait- I’m not done with you!,” I wail. And then I mourn a little and am unable to really get into other books for the next couple of days. You know this feeling? I call it a book hangover.Nobody writes about the interior lives of families like Patchett. The inside jokes, the resentments that go on for years, the little rivalries and Damn you, Ann Patchett. Your books, the last three in particular, have gotten me so deeply involved with your characters that I have felt bereft when they’re over. “Wait- I’m not done with you!,” I wail. And then I mourn a little and am unable to really get into other books for the next couple of days. You know this feeling? I call it a book hangover.Nobody writes about the interior lives of families like Patchett. The inside jokes, the resentments that go on for years, the little rivalries and the deep, idiosyncratic, lasting connections. This book pulls you right into its world, and I just finished it this morning (when I had other things I was supposed to be doing), but I’m sad not to have that world anymore.In this family, the mother leaves- when her son is 3 and her daughter is 10- and the father marries a wicked stepmother. The Dutch House is an amazing, one-of-a-kind mansion in the Philadelphia suburbs, and it’s called the Dutch House because the father in this family purchased it, fully furnished, decorated, and stuffed full of the former owners’ clothing and other possessions (and even a library full of Dutch books) from the Dutch family who owned it before. There are even paintings of the matriarch and the patriarch of the family on either side of the fireplace, and up they stay through the years.The stepmother is very wicked, and the repercussions of what happens to the son in this family, who is also the narrator, and his sister Maeve, who I absolutely ADORED, go on through the decades. Decades of surprising conversations, alliances, returns and departures.I don’t know how she does it. She not only creates the people, she creates this whole world. Late in the book, the narrator remembers a secret drawer in a table and finds quarters he knows have been stuffed away there for decades, and I could actually feel the slightly warped drawer opening with some resistance, smell the old wood and long abandoned change. This is delightful. Just what I want from fiction. There aren’t many writers whose ages I google, greedily, wishing for their good health and a lot more books. (Oh, good. She’s just a year older than me. Eat your green soup, Ms. Patchett.)
    more
  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. A wonderful study of a family over three generations and their relationship with the Dutch House. This is a poignantly observed essay on how nostalgia and the ghosts of our past affect our present and inform our future. I am most grateful to have received an arc of this from Netgalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read this marvellous book.
    more
  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    4.5★, rounded up.I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of this book from Bloomsbury, as Ann Patchett is one of my favourite authors. While reading it, I couldn't help but compare it with her previous novel, Commonwealth, which I liked but didn't love. This one, I loved. Both are strongly character-driven stories about family, but somehow The Dutch House also has more plot and was therefore more satisfying as I turned the final page.Told in the first person, from the point of view of Daniel C 4.5★, rounded up.I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of this book from Bloomsbury, as Ann Patchett is one of my favourite authors. While reading it, I couldn't help but compare it with her previous novel, Commonwealth, which I liked but didn't love. This one, I loved. Both are strongly character-driven stories about family, but somehow The Dutch House also has more plot and was therefore more satisfying as I turned the final page.Told in the first person, from the point of view of Daniel Conroy, this is the story of 3 generations of the Conroys and their relationship to the Dutch House in Elkins Park. The house is such an integral part of the story, it's like a family member in its own right. Built by cigarette-distribution magnates, the VanHoebeeks, the house has become ridiculously opulent in what became suburban Philadelphia, but was probably considered more tasteful or understated as part of the vast Elkins Park countryside of the pre-war era in which it was built. When the last of the VanHoebeeks died, Cyril Conroy was able to buy it lock, stock and barrel, for a good price. The house came fully furnished and decorated with all the VanHoebeeks possessions including clothes, ornaments and paintings. The life-size twin portraits of Mr and Mrs VanHoebeek continued to oversee the life of the house long after they were gone, from their position in the drawing room. Mr & Mrs VanHoebeek, who had no first names that I had ever heard, were old in their portraits but not entirely ancient. They both dressed in black and stood with an erect formality that spoke of another time. Even in their separate frames they were so together, so married, I always thought it must have been one large painting that someone cut in half. Because the house also came with one of their former staff, Fiona, the stories of the Dutch family stayed with the house and it was almost as though the VanHoebeeks became an older, more remote generation of the Conroy family.However, the purchase of the Dutch House was the beginning of the end of Cyril's marriage to Elna (Danny's mother), and therefore an early catalyst to his unhappy second marriage, to the much younger Andrea Smith. Both of these events necessarily shaped the close relationship between Danny and his older sister Maeve, as their father became more distant.Although the story jumps back and forth from when Danny was about 4 years old, to his late 40s or early 50s, Patchett skilfully brings the reader along and there is no danger of getting lost. There is a very recognisable arc that proceeds in a traditional linear direction over the top of the detours and meanderings. Towards the end, some threads of the story even come full circle and for me this was particularly satisfying.Danny's narration has a friendly, almost confiding tone that really draws you in and makes you care about his family. He admits to being a funny (i.e. odd), unobservant kid - (view spoiler)[such as the time he suddenly realised the housekeeper and the cook were more than just workmates (hide spoiler)] - and this serves to highlight the exceptional traits of his beloved sister. Due to their closeness we also get to know Maeve pretty well, or perhaps I should qualify that and say we know her family life pretty well. We don't know her personal life, although there are hints and we can speculate about what's going on there. But when I think about my own brother and me - with a similar age gap - I think that's realistic!Despite being banished from the Dutch House while Danny was still at high school, the house continues to be a magnet for Danny and Maeve long into their adult lives until they consciously decide to give it up. And then after a major disruption in the family, the Dutch House once again takes centre stage. I thought this was the perfect ending, providing the opportunity to get over so many regrets for so many characters.I could go on - there is so, so much more. Suffice to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the past few days, being immersed in the richly detailed, warm world of the Conroys and their Dutch House.
    more
  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    Maeve and Danny Conroy are an inseparable brother-and-sister pair. Their mother left when Danny was little, so his older sister played a maternal role, too. And when their father dies, they become like Hansel and Gretel (or Cinderella and her little brother): cast out into the wilds by an evil stepmother who takes possession of the only home they’ve ever known, a suburban Philadelphia mansion built on the proceeds of the VanHoebeeks’ cigarette empire.It’s interesting to see Patchett take on a ma Maeve and Danny Conroy are an inseparable brother-and-sister pair. Their mother left when Danny was little, so his older sister played a maternal role, too. And when their father dies, they become like Hansel and Gretel (or Cinderella and her little brother): cast out into the wilds by an evil stepmother who takes possession of the only home they’ve ever known, a suburban Philadelphia mansion built on the proceeds of the VanHoebeeks’ cigarette empire.It’s interesting to see Patchett take on a male perspective in this novel; she does it utterly convincingly. I also loved the medical threads running through: Maeve is diagnosed with diabetes as a teenager, and Danny spends many years in medical training even though his only ambition is to follow in his father’s footsteps as a property developer. There was a stretch in the middle of the book – something like 46% to 58% – when I was really bored with Danny’s dithering (‘but I don’t want to be a doctor … but I don’t want to marry Celeste’), and the chronology is unnecessarily complicated by flashbacks, though this is, I think, meant to convey Danny’s desultory composition of his memoirs.In the end I didn’t like this quite as much as Commonwealth, but it’s a winning exploration of family secrets and memories. As the decades pass you see how what happened to Maeve and Danny has been turned into myth: a story they repeat to themselves about how they were usurped until the narrative has more power than the reality. Readers, meanwhile, are invited to question the people and places we base our security on, and to imagine what it would mean to forgive and forget and start living in a different way. Patchett is always so good on the psychology of complicated families, and her sharp prose never fails to hit the nail on the head. The Goldfinch comes to mind as a readalike – not least because of the significance of a piece of art: the cover depicts a painting made of Maeve when she was 10 – as well as Nick Hornby’s How to Be Good.
    more
Write a review