Updated: Dec 30, 2019
The Dutch House showcases lyrical writing and first rate character development
In 1946, Brooklyn-born real-estate entrepreneur Cyril Conroy purchases the Dutch House in Elkins Park, outside Philadelphia, and presents it to his Wife, Elna. The 1920’s mansion comes complete with staff, life-size portraits of the original Dutch owners, a third floor ballroom, and a perfect window seat.
Elna, who grew up poor, hates the extravagance of the house. She runs away to serve the poor, abandoning her 10-year-old daughter, Maeve, and three-year-old son, Danny, to the hands of their rigid and cold father.
Five years later, Maeve and Danny are called downstairs to meet Conroy’s soon-to-be second wife, Andrea. The second Mrs. Conroy adores the house and all the money that goes along with it. When Cyril dies, she keeps the house and the money and dispossesses Maeve and Danny of any inheritance except for funds for Danny’s education. Danny and Maeve creatively use the education trust fund to send Danny to Choate, Columbia, and medical school, despite the simple fact he has absolutely no desire to become a doctor.
THE DUTCH HOUSE is a perfect blend of characters, setting and story. It’s undoubtably my favorite book of the year. ANN PATCHETT has long been my favorite author, and this book is one of her best. It’s masterfully written to capture the poignant relationship and unbreakable bonds between Danny and Maeve. A grown Danny narrates the story casting his sister as his unwavering friend and protector.
I didn’t want the book to end, and deliberately savored it a little slower that usual. The Dutch house vividly comes to life on the pages. We can see all the way from the driveway through the house to the conservatory, and we can see the little blue kitchen table where Danny frequently had his meals and did his homework and it is so easy to picture the large portrait hanging on the wall of the drawing room of a bright-eyed Maeve in her red coat, with her long thick black hair laying over her shoulders.
The story thoughtfully explores abandonment, inheritance, obsession, family relationships, love and forgiveness. PATCHETT is a lyrical storyteller and her characters development is first rate. My favorite part of the novel is the shared moments between Danny and Maeve, sitting in Maeve’s car in front of the Dutch House long after they had been expelled from the only home they had known. THE DUTCH HOUSE is a beautiful and strong testament to sibling bonds.
Thanks to Edelweiss, Harper Collins and Ann Patchett for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher Harper Collins Publishers Inc
Published September 24, 2019