The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.
The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.
Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.
The first time our father brought Andrea to the Dutch House, Sandy, our housekeeper, came to my sister’s room and told us to come downstairs.
Before I even say anything about the book itself, I will tell you that you must listen to the audiobook. It is narrated by Tom Hanks and his voice is a dream. If you narrated every audiobook from now on I would be happy. I will say that because he has such an iconic voice it was a little bit jarring at first!
Now to the my thoughts on the actual book. I now understand why Ann Patchett is so beloved. There is something about the way that she writes characters and their connections to one another that is really special. What I particularly loved about The Dutch House was that it centered around the relationship between a sister and a brother. As someone with a younger brother, this was a joy to read about!
I will tell you that not a lot happens in this book. It is very much character-driven as we follow these two siblings from childhood through their adulthood. It allows you to become completely invested in their lives and it was interesting to see the way that their childhood affected their paths in life.
Yes. If you love a slower, more lush novel where you form a connection with the characters, this is the book for you.
Which Ann Patchett book should I read next?