THE DUTCH HOUSE
By Ann Patchett
This highly acclaimed novel is one of my favorite books in a very long time. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, New York Times best seller, one of the best books of the year by NPR, and many more.
Have you ever read a book where a house (really an amazing mansion) is the central focus of the story? The Dutch House is the dream of Cyril Conroy. The unfortunate thing is that his wife does not share his dream so she and his two children Danny and Maeve experience decades of trying to overcome the unhappiness and turmoil that follow their rags to riches story.
The story begins with fifteen year-old Maeve and eight year-old Danny being summoned to meet a friend of their fathers. The friend, Andrea, we’re told was the first woman he had brought home since their mother left. When Maeve asked,
“How do you do? Andrea replied she was very well. Of course she was. It had been her goal for years to get inside the house.”
The book continues by describing the remarkable bond of the two siblings. It was described by one reviewer as “a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past.” The author has a wonderful way of telling this sad story with just the right amount of humor.
As Danny grows older the first Saturday of every month was a special day. He gets to ride along with his father to collect the rent from his tenants. It’s a learning experience as his father teaches him many of the life and business lessons that made him so successful. After dinner that day, Maeve wanted a detailed account of everything they did. Because, although she
was seven years older and excellent in Math she was never invited to ride along.
As this book spans five decades in the life of this family I can’t begin to tell you all the things that transpire. In a nutshell though, the one most traumatic event is the untimely death of their father. Since they had been deserted by their mother and their father had married Andrea a couple of years before, they were at the mercy of their truly wicked stepmother!
I hope you’ll enjoy this beautifully written story of a family, but mostly about a brother and sister who in spite of their past love and support each other unconditionally.