A masterpiece from the Orange Prize-winning, New York Times number one bestselling author of Commonwealth and Bel Canto: a story of love, family, sacrifice, and the power of place
Danny Conroy grows up in the Dutch House, a lavish folly in small-town Pennsylvania taken on by his property developer father. Though his father is distant and his mother is absent, Danny has his beloved sister Maeve: Maeve, with her wall of black hair, her delicacy, her brilliance. Life is comfortable and coherent, played out under the watchful eyes of the house’s former owners in the frames of their oil paintings, or under the cover of the draperies around the window seat in Maeve’s room.
Then one day their father brings Andrea home: Andrea, small and neat, a dark hat no bigger than a saucer pinned over a twist of her fair hair. Though they cannot know it, Andrea’s advent to the Dutch House sows the seed of the defining loss of Danny and Maeve’s lives. Her arrival will exact a banishment: a banishment whose reverberations will echo for the rest of their lives.
For all that the world is open to him, for all that he can accumulate, for all that life is full, Danny and his sister are drawn back time and again to the place they can never enter, knocking in vain on the locked door of the past. For behind the mystery of their own enforced exile is that of their mother’s self-imposed one: an absence more powerful than any presence they have known.
Told with Ann Patchett’s inimitable blend of wit and heartbreak, The Dutch House is a story of family, betrayal, love, responsibility and sacrifice; of the powerful bonds of place and time that magnetize and repel us for our whole lives, and the lives of those who survive us.
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW
What a tremendous story this is, one that I feel I will go back to and read again and again.
The Dutch House wasn’t really a house to be owned, it was a house that owned the people that lived there because even when they left there was always that pull to return to it. The story follows the lives of brother and sister, Danny the younger sibling by seven years, who tells the story and his sister Maeve. The house was unique their father had bought it before their mother saw it. It was his haven and her hell. Elma had always been a careful woman with money and now there she was with servants. Not something she could adjust to. Their mother often left and returned until one day their father told them she wouldn’t be coming back.
When their father turned up one day with Andrea, a much younger woman than him, their lives began to change. When Andrea brought her two daughters Maeve and Danny were left to look after them, their lives became secondary. When tragedy struck their lives became their own.
This is an epic read that stretches years through the lives of the two siblings as the past and the people that had impacted them are never far away. The Dutch House still has that magnetic pull to them but a greater pull keeps them still at arm’s length away.
The story is tremendous, with characters you feel you have known as they age from chapter to chapter. Their struggles and heartbreak, with an end that just knocked me off balance with its shocks and aftershocks. Perfection, just perfection.
I wish to thank Rachel Wilkie Head of Marketing at Bloomsbury Books for inviting me to read and review this book and for an e-copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly.
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patchett was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother is the novelist Jeanne Ray.
She moved to Nashville, Tennessee when she was six, where she continues to live. Patchett said she loves her home in Nashville with her doctor husband and dog. If asked if she could go any place, that place would always be home. “Home is …the stable window that opens out into the imagination.”
Patchett attended high school at St. Bernard Academy, a private, non-parochial Catholic school for girls run by the Sisters of Mercy. Following graduation, she attended Sarah Lawrence College and took fiction writing classes with Allan Gurganus, Russell Banks, and Grace Paley. She later attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she met longtime friend Elizabeth McCracken. It was also there that she wrote her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars.
In 2010, when she found that her hometown of Nashville no longer had a good book store, she co-founded Parnassus Books with Karen Hayes; the store opened in November 2011. In 2012, Patchett was on the Time 100 list of most influential people in the world by TIME magazine.