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Review: The Dutch House

The Dutch House

Title: The Dutch House
Author: Ann Patchett
Page Count: 337
Genre: Adult Fiction
Published by: HarperCollins
Date Published: September 24, 2019
You can find it here: Bookshop.org


When patriarch Cyril Conroy raises his family from poverty to riches via a wise investment following WWII and purchases the lavish mansion, known as the Dutch House, he didn’t realize it would become the catalyst of the family’s downfall.

Told through the eyes of son Danny this novel takes us on a journey spanning five decades as Danny and his beloved older sister Maeve struggle to deal with their mother’s abandonment, their father’s remarriage and sudden death, and their ultimate exile from the house (and wealth) by their bitter stepmother. Both siblings are whip-smart, bitingly pessimistic and sarcastic, and incredibly dependant upon each other … sometimes to a detrimental level.

Gentle storytelling that follows the plot of human emotion, connection, and the haunting of the past, with an eclectic house at the centre that serves as a dynamic character … this novel was surprisingly, compulsively readable and truly hard to put down.


1. Favourite character and why: Maeve, 100%. While all characters in the novel are morally grey and actually quite unlikeable for the most part … Maeve posses an inner strength of uncompromising, unapologetic individuality. Brilliant and a product of a failed time when doors for smart women remained slammed shut, she builds a life for herself that is based on her values, her interests, and doesn’t give a damn how others perceive it. While her strength can come across biting and frosty and stubborn, the heart of this character is genuinely kind.

2. World building: Surprisingly, for such a quiet prose, the world development is incredible. The house breathes like a real character (almost sentient and sinister at that) … Ann Patchett does a remarkable job taking us on a five-decade journey that is vivid, nostalgic, and complete.

3. Favourite Quote/Passage/Scene: Well, if I said the ending pages you’d likely all be a bit grumpy with me … but I truly love the concluding scene between Danny and his grown daughter May, who has grown up to be a unique replicable reminiscent of her Aunt. But a true stand out scene to me is the first night when, soon-to-be-stepmother Andrea’s, children are suddenly left with Maeve and Danny at The Dutch House. We truly see the depth of Maeve’s strength, kindness, intelligence, and cunning (when she confronts her father the next morning). For some reason, it sticks to me.

4. Overall Take: Loved it, absolutely adored this book. A unique combination of quiet prose with a slow but compulsively readable plot. Characters that are grey and incredibly interesting…this played a bit like a crooked fairytale. Completely unique.

5. TBR Ranking: Top

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