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Book Review: The Dutch House

October 9, 2019

So, this week I had a crazy busy (yet amazing!) weekend! So, stayed tuned for those blog posts cause they're gonna be good ones! I got to visit my big sis, and her fella, and get my nerd on, but more on that later!

 

If you need a refresher about my weekly book reviews, check that out here!

 

With no more ado, here is my review of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett!

 The Dutch House follows Danny Conroy, and his sister Maeve, across a 50-year journey. The story begins with Danny as a young boy. He recounts seeing his father's new wife seeing The Dutch House, a mansion in the Dutch style. His mother left him and Maeve when they were young to go help the poor in India. Andrea, their new step-mother, soon begins undermining the kids, and once Maeve leaves for college, she moves her own daughter into Maeve's room.

 

Soon after their father dies, Andrea kicks Danny out of the house. Maeve decides Danny is going to go to medical school to use up the trust he left for the kids' educations.

 

Danny hates medical school, but it's made easier when he meets Celeste. But Maeve and Celeste don't get  along. 

 

Danny's true passion is real estate, like his father, and he soon buys a dilapidated building to fix it up and rent it out. Him and Celeste soon break up. He finishes medical school, but doesn't pursue a career as a doctor.

 

Danny and Celeste soon rekindle, and get married. They quickly have two kids, Maeve and Kevin.

 

Danny arranges for their old nanny to come stay and help Celeste with the kids. She reveals she had an affair with their father, and that their mother was never happy in The Dutch House.

 

When Maeve suffers a heart attack, Danny goes to take care of her, but is surprised when their mother shows up. Their mom, Elna, begins taking care of Maeve, and Maeve forgives her for leaving. Danny can't forgive her but is friendly for Maeve's sake. Elna convinces them to go back to The Dutch House to confront Andrea, but once they're there they realize she has dementia and can't remember who they are. Elna stays to care for her as penance for leaving her kids. The novel ends with Andrea and Maeve dying, and Danny's daughter Maeve, now a famous movie star, inheriting The Dutch House.

 

I am the biggest Ann Patchett fan, so when I heard she had a new novel coming out, I knew I had to get my hands on it! And it did not disappoint. It was beautifully written, as only Ann Patchett can, and full of heartbreak and triumph. It was filled with sibling love, and poignant moments of loss and redemption. Patchett is able to make 50 years pass in the blink of an eye while still fully flushing out all the years of Danny and Maeve's lives. Patchett is truly a gifted author!

 

I loved that The Dutch House became a character in its own right. The house was the catalyst of the whole novel; it's the reason Andrea married their father, the reason they get kicked out, and they reason they are finally able to put their pasts behind them. I loved the impact this inanimate object had on the whole story. The Dutch House evokes images of grandeur and complete loss. It was evocative.

 

I loved the whole story line. I liked getting to know Danny, and Maeve, across that 50 year span. I thought the whole story line was very original, and the character's were very well written. While I'm sure Danny and Maeve were written with flaws, I was too busy liking them to see them! Which never really happens when I read. I think Patchett did an excellent job making the reader sympathetic to those two.

 

In all, I loved every minute of reading The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (but I love everything she writes, so I might be biased!)! I give it an enthusiastic 5 out of 5!

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