BOOK REVIEW: The Dutch House
by Ann Patchett
ABOUT THE BOOKS (from Amazon):
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 unshakeable 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.
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I listened to the audiobook format of “The Dutch House” this summer while running. With Tom Hanks as the narrator, this isn’t just a book; it’s an experience.
First off, let’s talk characters. Danny and Maeve, the siblings at the center of this intricate tale, feel so authentic, you might mistake them for people you’ve known your whole life. Patchett masterfully peels back the layers of these characters, showing us their complexities, quirks, and ultimately, their undeniable humanity.
What really elevates “The Dutch House” are the universal themes that Patchett weaves through the narrative: family dynamics, the passage of time, and the complexities of memory. This is a story that will prompt you to look back at your own life, your own memories, and your own relationships.
Patchett’s writing is nothing short of exquisite. Her storytelling ability transforms even the most ordinary scenes into spellbinding moments. She knows when to linger and when to move swiftly, making sure the pacing is always on point.
This isn’t a book that’s all sunshine and daisies. It delves deep into issues like abandonment, betrayal, and even the brutal realities of poverty. But it does so with a hopeful undertone that keeps you rooting for its characters until the very end.
In short, “The Dutch House” is an absolute must-read.