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.
Title : The Dutch House
Author : Ann Patchett
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 352
Genre : Literary Fiction
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date :
Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 3 star review
THE DUTCH HOUSE was an epic family saga told over decades, detailing the level to which a family can be messed up. There was nothing predictable about this tale and overall the tone of the story was pretty sad and depressing. However, it was rich in characterisation and description.
The story was told from the POV of Danny, at first a young boy, at the end in his fifties. Alongside, his sister Maeve, they navigated traumatic family events that initially revolved around their house (The Dutch House) and later away from the house. There was an amazing cast of side characters, my favourites of whom were Dr Able, Fluffy and Andrea (who doesn’t love a Cruella de Ville character).
I spent various points in this book incensed on behalf of Maeve and Danny. Danny had all the potential as a young man to turn out differently from his father but as the book progressed, I did feel he became something of a self-centred cold fish and he definitely had shades of his father. I adored Maeve as a character, she was the rudder to this story and many of her story lines just plain hurt.
It sounded so nostalgic when he said it, the three of us, as if we had once been a unit instead of just a circumstance.
The return of Elna to the story was not welcome to me and I just knew that she wasn’t going to be great news despite the understandable glee of Maeve. The wrap up to Andrea was a little disappointing as well; these mothers were just awful.
I am left reflecting on how much this book made me feel and how involved I became with this family despite my middling rating. I would definitely read Ann Patchett again because she creates such characters that you cannot help but get swept up by them.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing and Tandem Collective for the review copy.