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The Dutch House

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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 e 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.


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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 e 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.

30 review for The Dutch House

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    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!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    4.5 stars Sometimes 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 4.5 stars Sometimes 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    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.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Attached The 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 wonde/>The Attached The 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters

    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 - 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!

  7. 5 out of 5

    JanB

    2.5 stars: Danny and Maeve are siblings who can’t overcome their past. Abandoned by their mother at an early age, Maeve, the oldest, assumes the mother role. Everything changes further when their emotionally distant father marries the evil stepmother and the children are cut out of their inheritance. The pain, bitterness, and anger shapes their personalities and their future. How do they move past such a childhood? My questions: What does forgiveness look like? Does forgiveness mean you all 2.5 stars: Danny and Maeve are siblings who can’t overcome their past. Abandoned by their mother at an early age, Maeve, the oldest, assumes the mother role. Everything changes further when their emotionally distant father marries the evil stepmother and the children are cut out of their inheritance. The pain, bitterness, and anger shapes their personalities and their future. How do they move past such a childhood? My questions: What does forgiveness look like? Does forgiveness mean you allow toxic people back into your life? Is that healthy? What is required of the person(s) who did you wrong? I have my own thoughts about these issues but you’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself. Commonwealth is one of my favorite books and this was one of my most anticipated books of the year. The first 75% was riveting reading. But the story took a turn that I found unrealistic and ridiculous. I can’t say more without spoilers but I’m glad I could vent to my reading buddy Marialyce. I’ve tried to discern the author’s purpose in writing this book and it either escapes me or it’s one I can’t buy into. * I received a copy of the book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review * for our duo review of this and other books please visit https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    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 wh 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: 09/27/19 Publication Date: 09/24/19

  9. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    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 co 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    "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 "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/.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    Ann Patchett rarely disappoints and The Dutch House is no exception. This story spans several decades, beginning with siblings Danny and Maeve, in their childhood, growing up in the Dutch House, outside of Philadelphia. The story is told entirely from Danny’s perspective. He’s very close with Maeve, his older sister, as their mother, Elna, left when the children were young. The family was well-off and their father, Cyril, though not particularly warm, provided for and raised his two children, who cou Ann Patchett rarely disappoints and The Dutch House is no exception. This story spans several decades, beginning with siblings Danny and Maeve, in their childhood, growing up in the Dutch House, outside of Philadelphia. The story is told entirely from Danny’s perspective. He’s very close with Maeve, his older sister, as their mother, Elna, left when the children were young. The family was well-off and their father, Cyril, though not particularly warm, provided for and raised his two children, who couldn’t got a straight answer as to why Elna left, just hearing bits and pieces through others. I was frustrated on their behalf for the lack of answers. Cyril remarries Andrea, a woman with little regard for Danny and Maeve, even though she has two daughters of her own. When tragedy strikes, Andrea kicks Danny and Maeve out of the Dutch House, redirecting the course of their lives. The siblings grow even closer as they deal with the devastating blow of being thrown out of their home and try to forge on with their new life. Is a house really a home? Does karma exist? At what point, if ever, does forgive and forget happen? These are all questions indirectly posed in The Dutch House, where the house itself is a central character in the story. I liked both Danny and Maeve though at points, I recognized why their fierce loyalty to one another could be frustrating for others. Danny bent a bit too easily to Maeve’s wishes at times. I did enjoy the subtle sarcasm of Danny’s adult POV in the story. It never ceases to amaze me how talented of a writer Ann Patchett is - I’m a big fan and continue to marvel at how she writes such great stories, none of which are alike. I appreciate the variation of settings, different characters, and that her stories do not follow a set formula. While I didn’t love The Dutch House quite as much as Commonwealth or State of Wonder, I still really liked it and found the book to be a worthy read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    A grand house with grand siblings inside A 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 go A grand house with grand siblings inside A 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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rincey

    Just punch me right in the heart next time, Patchett. It'd be faster. See my full review here: https://youtu.be/xjW9XCANxPU

  14. 4 out of 5

    PorshaJo

    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.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eric Anderson

    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

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    4.5 Stars This 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 entire 4.5 Stars This 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 2019 Many thanks to HarperCollins Publishers, Harper

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    4.5 I really enjoyed this story which follows a pair of siblings through five decades, the loss of their parents and childhood home and how those losses affected their lives. Such a strong bond between the siblings and a past that wouldn’t let them go.. the house itself played such a huge part in this story, like it was one of the characters. Great characters! Good story!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    TOM HANKS NARRATES THIS AUDIOBOOK! I repeat, Tom Hanks narrates this audiobook! I could listen to that man narrate a grocery list but lucky for us, this book was much more interesting than that. Let me first warn you that this is absolutely a character study plot type novel. And by that I mean, don't go into this book expecting this to happen: beginning->story climax where something major happens->ending. Instead, the readers gets to wade through the lives of Danny and his older sister, M TOM HANKS NARRATES THIS AUDIOBOOK! I repeat, Tom Hanks narrates this audiobook! I could listen to that man narrate a grocery list but lucky for us, this book was much more interesting than that. Let me first warn you that this is absolutely a character study plot type novel. And by that I mean, don't go into this book expecting this to happen: beginning->story climax where something major happens->ending. Instead, the readers gets to wade through the lives of Danny and his older sister, Maeve. It's like literary voyeurism. This is something I personally enjoy (I even have a shelf for it!), but if that does not sound like the kind of story you want to read, you might want to skip this. Getting into the book itself - I *loved* the first 2/3 of the book, maybe even 3/4. So, as you can probably figure out, the ending is where I dropped my planned 5 star review down to a 4. I don't want to spoil any of the book, because when a book really isn't about anything in particular everything is a spoiler. But I can say that the ending left me wondering if the author was trying to tell the reader something about forgiveness and if so, I am way too much of a cynical grudge bearing asshole to jump on that forgiveness ship, both in books and in real life. So, there's that. But don't let my personal issues with the book ending dissuade you from LISTENING to this book. Because Tom Hanks. *dreamy sigh while I go watch You've Got Mail for the millionth time*

  19. 5 out of 5

    Umut Reviews

    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.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    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.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    Didn't even have to think about this one. Five stars because everything in this novel is perfect. From the masterful beginning until the perfect ending, and everything in between; the characters who feel like family, the Dutch house itself, the story which loops around and circles in upon itself, surprises, unexpected opportunities and also the letting go of hatred and revenge when there's no point in them anymore. I'm still not sure how I feel about the Mother, but I'll be dwelling on her for q Didn't even have to think about this one. Five stars because everything in this novel is perfect. From the masterful beginning until the perfect ending, and everything in between; the characters who feel like family, the Dutch house itself, the story which loops around and circles in upon itself, surprises, unexpected opportunities and also the letting go of hatred and revenge when there's no point in them anymore. I'm still not sure how I feel about the Mother, but I'll be dwelling on her for quite some time. I don't know exactly how Ann Patchett keeps on getting better and better, but she has taken grand storytelling to a new level.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    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, bein 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.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anna Luce

    ★★★★★ 5 stars “I was still at a point in my life when the house was the hero of every story, our lost and beloved country.” Not Quite a Review, More of an Ode to Ann Patchett: Usually I tend to post my reviews a couple of days after I’ve finished reading a book. With The Dutch House it took me nearly two weeks to work up the ‘courage’ to review it. The fact is that I loved The Dutch House so much that I find hard to see it as a ‘mere’ work of fiction. This is the eight novel that I’ve read by Ann Patchett/> ★★★★★ 5 stars “I was still at a point in my life when the house was the hero of every story, our lost and beloved country.” Not Quite a Review, More of an Ode to Ann Patchett: Usually I tend to post my reviews a couple of days after I’ve finished reading a book. With The Dutch House it took me nearly two weeks to work up the ‘courage’ to review it. The fact is that I loved The Dutch House so much that I find hard to see it as a ‘mere’ work of fiction. This is the eight novel that I’ve read by Ann Patchett and she has yet to disappoint. It is difficult to ‘pick’ a favourite, even if I can see that throughout the course of her writing career she has really honed her craft. Yet, I wholeheartedly loved her early books (especially her unjustly underrated 1997 novel, The Magician's Assistant), so to imply that she ‘keeps getting better’ would be doing her a disservice. Regardless of the scope of her stories (whether they take place in a short period of time in a particular city, such as in Run, or move us between two ‘extremes’, in The Magician's Assistant we move between Los Angeles and Nebraska, or take us on even longer journey, for instance in State of Wonder we follow Dr. Marina Singh’s as she leaves Minnesota for the Amazon Rainforest) Patchett tends to explore the same themes: there is a focus on familial relationships, especially between siblings, and these established dynamics are often changed due to some ‘major’ event (often the death of a loved one/relative/colleague). Although The Dutch House is written in Patchett’s signature prose, which can be described as being deceptively simple it features a first-person perspective, which is a departure from her usual third-person point of view. Being inside Danny Conroy’s head makes for an immersive experience and within the first pages I was captivated by his story. Through an act of retrospection Danny looks back to the past and what follows is a narrative that could be described as a bildungsroman. Danny’s childhood in the Dutch House—a large, if not incongruous, mansion in a prosperous suburb of Philadelphia—is clouded by the absence of his mother (a woman he cannot clearly recall but whose absence he nonetheless feels) and by his relationship with his remote father. It is Maeve, Danny’s older sister, who takes on the role of ‘parental’ figure, and their relationship is very much the underlying thread of the story. The Dutch House, weighed down by its history, inspires fascination in Andrea, the woman who will go on to become Danny and Maeve’s step-mother. The novel begins in fact with Danny’s memory of his first meeting with Andrea, one that seems to have almost a fairy-tale-esque quality in that it was the day where ‘everything’ seemed to change. Throughout Danny’s narrative we will also see the way in which the Conroy siblings remain drawn to the house, a house which seems to acquire an emblematic role in the lives of those who have lived in: it represents their childhoods, their father—his career, his marriage(s)—and the rather unfortunate VanHoebeeks. Patchett renders this house without loosing herself in extensive architectural descriptions, rather she brings to the foreground some of its features (Maeve's windowseat) and some of its objects. The paintings within the house (Maeve's portrait and those of the VanHoebeeks) also seem to hold a certain function in Danny's recollection of his past. “Maybe it was neoclassical, though with a simplicity in the lines that came closer to Mediterranean or French, and while it was not Dutch, the blue delft mantels in the drawing room, library, and master bedroom were said to have been pried out of a castle in Utrecht and sold to the VanHoebeeks to pay a prince’s gambling debts. The house, complete with mantels, had been finished in 1922.” In his remembrance Danny frequently makes vague, if not downright oblique, allusions to later events or revelations, which in turn creates tension between his past and present. Also framing Danny's recollection of his youth are a series of scenes in which alongside Maeve, he sits in her car outside the Dutch House. Danny also questions the veracity of his memories: “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.” He reassess certain moments and figures of his past, finding hidden complexities in what had at first appeared to be seemingly unremarkable occurrences. “Do you think it’s possible to ever see the past as it actually was?” While the novel is narrated by Danny he never paints himself as the ‘hero’ of his own story. He often wonders whether he should have acted in a different way towards someone or something, trying to understand why things unfurled the way that they did. While the motivations of other characters might escape him, and possibly us, they are never reduced to a certain role/function. The each have a story even if we are not always made privy to it. An although there is an awareness of the limitations provided by Danny's narration, the story never feels restricted to his experiences and worldview. “Whatever romantic notions I might have harbored, whatever excuses or allowances my heart had ever made on her behalf, blew out like a match.” My edition of The Dutch House includes an essay in which Ann Patchett says that “for a long time I had planned to call the book Maeve as it was her story.” The novel, in fact, very much pivots around Maeve but it is her brother who is telling her tale. We see the way in which their experiences in the Dutch House makes them determined to fulfil their desires or to take a certain path in their life: for Danny that is to become, as his father before him, a real-estate developer, while Maeve wants to carry on working a job she loves even if many consider her to be overqualified to do. While to some degree Danny's vision of Maeve influences our perception of her, we are always aware that she may have hidden qualities. What is certainly undeniable is her love for her brother. Their bond is portrayed with such frankness and poignancy as to become vividly real in the reader’s mind. This a story full of beauty and sorrow. There are regrets, wonderful reflections on memory, moments that are brimming with love or sadness...Patchett spins a tale in which families fall apart or come together. It is an intimate depiction of the bond between two siblings. Time and again Danny draws strength from his relationship to his sister, and even when he begins to feel unmoored from his own life, and as he struggles trying to reconcile himself with his past, Maeve provides him with a sense of belonging. Patchett's sense of place is as detailed and evocative as ever. She seamlessly renders midcentury America through Danny's narration, evoking within me a sense of nostalgia for a country I've never even been to. And while Danny's story spans decades, it maintains its focus on the same group of people, painting an intimate portrait of Danny's friends and family. ...to put it simply I fell in love with it. Patchett's harmonious prose made the experience all the more beautiful, and I was so enthralled by her story and her characters that to I struggled to think of them as works of fiction. What more can I say? I think this is a masterpiece. “We had made a fetish out of our misfortune, fallen in love with it. I was sickened to realize we’d kept it going for so long, not that we had decided to stop.” Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ace

    I will be surprised if I read a better book this month than this one. Loved it and have renewed interest in reading more Patchett.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    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 writ 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.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Ann Patchett is a master storyteller and she lives up to this reputation with her latest work - The Dutch House. Her writing is superb and the stories she tells invite you in and before you know it, you’ve developed deep relationships with the characters. This is a story about abandonment, love, family, loyalty, loss, and forgiveness. It is also about growing up and letting go of the past. There are three main characters - Danny, the narrator and younger brother of Maeve, our second c Ann Patchett is a master storyteller and she lives up to this reputation with her latest work - The Dutch House. Her writing is superb and the stories she tells invite you in and before you know it, you’ve developed deep relationships with the characters. This is a story about abandonment, love, family, loyalty, loss, and forgiveness. It is also about growing up and letting go of the past. There are three main characters - Danny, the narrator and younger brother of Maeve, our second character and the House. The Dutch House was first built by the VanHoebeeks, who decorated it in Dutch style and lived there until they died. In fact, all of their possessions had remained there after they had left this world. Life-sized portraits of Mr. and Mrs. VanHoebeeks adorned the walls of the drawing room and paintings of other relatives hung on walls throughout the house. It was a grand estate with glass in the front that saw all the way through to the flowers in the back. Patchett skillfully gives the House life with vivid imagery and detailed descriptions that you will almost feel like you are there. The VanHoebeeks weren’t the story, but in a sense the house was the story, and it was their house. The Dutch House, as it came to be known in Elkins Park and Jenkintown and Glenside and all the way to Philadelphia, referred not to the house’s architecture but to its inhabitants. The Dutch House was the place where those Dutch people with the unpronounceable name lived. When they were young, Danny and Maeve’s mother abandoned them and Maeve stepped into that role. Danny expressed concern that no one could do the same for Maeve. The two siblings grew incredibly close and stayed that way throughout their lives. Their relationship was very touching and a very appealing aspect of the story. Several years after their Mother left, their Father married Andrea, who was the epitome of the evil stepmother. Their dislike of her further united them, if that was even possible. We ate the cookies and dredged up every awful memory of Andrea we had. We traded them between us like baseball cards, exclaiming over every piece of information one of us didn’t already know. We dug a pit and roasted her. The Dutch House figures prominently in the story. It drove Maeve’s and Danny’s Mother away — it symbolized to her luxurious excess in a world where others went starving. For their Father, it represented success. The house is what ultimately brought Andrea into their family — she married their Father in order to get it. For Danny and Maeve, the house was a place to grow up as well as to return. It represented their memories and their pasts. A dominant theme in The Dutch House is the siblings’ inability to let go of the past and their emotional baggage of anger as well as regret. The house physically drew them back time and time again, like a magnet. Whenever Danny returned to town, he and Maeve would end up parked across the street from the Dutch House, watching for any activity or news. There was no extra time in those days and I didn’t want to spend the little of it I had sitting in front of the goddamn house, but that’s where we wound up... ...like swallows, like salmon, we were the helpless captives of our migratory patterns. Looking and watching the house, they would reminisce about the past and wonder if one can ever truly contemplate the past objectively. 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. I didn’t even know they were sisters, meaning I was a toad. But that’s me layering the present onto the past. Ann Patchett weaves together emotional stories, which capture your heart. She is a fabulous writer: here are a few examples of her masterful use of imagery and metaphors/similes. Whatever romantic notions I might have harbored, whatever excuses or allowances my heart had ever made on her behalf, blew out like a match. 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. That was it. Fluffy, who had not stopped talking since I walked in the door, shut down like a mechanical horse in need of another nickel.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

    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 n/>The 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.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bkwmlee

    4.5 stars I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that I’m probably one of the few people on this planet who, up until now, had never read an Ann Patchett novel. Despite the fact that Patchett is an author I’ve wanted to read for a long time -- I’ve had most of her previous works on my TBR for quite some time and even own physical copies of several of her books -- I unfortunately have not had the opportunity to actually crack open any of them. Of course, all that changed last 4.5 stars I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that I’m probably one of the few people on this planet who, up until now, had never read an Ann Patchett novel. Despite the fact that Patchett is an author I’ve wanted to read for a long time -- I’ve had most of her previous works on my TBR for quite some time and even own physical copies of several of her books -- I unfortunately have not had the opportunity to actually crack open any of them. Of course, all that changed last week when I saw that the next book on my seemingly never-ending ARC list would be Patchett’s newly released eighth novel The Dutch House (published in September 2019) – I was thrilled that I would finally be able to experience one of her works for myself, though at the same time, that also meant I would be going into this one with relatively high expectations. Luckily, this one ended up being a wonderful read, even better than I expected, which honestly doesn’t happen often. The story is narrated entirely from the perspective of Danny Conroy, who is only a boy of 8 years old when the story opens. His sister Maeve, herself only a teenager at 15 years old, took Danny under her care after their mother Elna left them 5 years ago. Both children live in the Dutch House, a see-through glass mansion of sorts that their father Cyril, a real estate developer, had bought as a surprise gift for their mother. Cyril is a distant father who is always consumed with his work and aside from providing his children with the necessities — a cook to prepare food for them to eat, a housekeeper to tend to the household duties, a nanny to tend to their day-to-day needs — he could never be bothered with much else beyond that. But Maeve and Danny had each other to lean on and along with the love of their housekeeper and cook (sisters Sandy and Jocelyn who had been hired by their mother back in the day), they were relatively happy and content with their lives. All that changes however when Cyril decides to marry a young woman named Andrea, who moves into the Dutch House with her 2 daughters in tow — the profound impact that this decision ends up having on Danny’s and Maeve’s futures becomes the basis upon which the entire story revolves. This story is billed as a family saga spanning 5 decades, which initially made me think that it would be so epic in scope that it would take a longer time to read, but in actuality, I devoured this one, not wanting to put it down once I started. Patchett is a masterful storyteller and her writing here absolutely captivates — I was hooked from the very first page, not just to the story but also to the characters. It’s extremely rare for me to already like and connect with a story’s characters within the first few chapters, but that’s exactly what happened with Danny and Maeve — two characters I loved from the beginning and who continued to grow more endearing as the story progressed. While all of Patchett’s characters in here were nuanced and well-developed (even most of the minor characters), what made me gravitate to Danny and Maeve the most was the unshakable bond that these two siblings shared throughout their lives – a bond that continued to exist despite everything that happens, no matter how many times their relationship is put to the test. Needless to say, I was genuinely moved by their relationship. Speaking of characters, of course the Dutch House itself also existed as a “character” central to the story, however the beauty here is that, even though its presence was continually felt throughout the story, it never once overtook the other characters. Despite the house’s significance to the plot, it was quite clear from beginning to end that the story itself belonged to Maeve and Danny. In this regard, the house serves as a connection to their past and while this past is what shapes who they eventually grow up to become as adults, it is also how they deal with this past that forms the crux of their story. Here, again, the brilliance of Patchett’s writing comes into play, as the transitions between past and present throughout the book were seamless – no easy feat given the extensive timeline that the story covered plus the fact that the plot jumped around from one situation to the next in no particular order. Up until the last few chapters, this actually had all the makings of a 5-star read for me – the reason I eventually decided on 4.5 stars was mainly because I wasn’t fond of the ending and also didn’t like how a few plot points played out in the lasts few chapters. Though I must admit that I also had some issues with the character of Elna Conroy (Danny and Maeve’s mother) – things that made her character come across too unrealistic for me and made it difficult for me to wholeheartedly accept some of the situations that happen because of it. This small complaint aside, I still consider this book a masterpiece – not quite perfect, but a masterpiece nonetheless. While I eagerly wait to see what Patchett has in store for us next, there’s no doubt that I will be exploring her backlist of previous works very, very soon! Received ARC from Harper via Edelweiss.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    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 le 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.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    [4+] Curling up with The Dutch House was deeply gratifying. I loved slowly getting to know the characters. I liked the way they changed - and how their perception of the House shifted as they grew and aged. Patchett weaves a complex narrative that doesn't fit together perfectly, just like life. This novel kept me guessing and hoping - and caring.

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