Monday, 5 October 2020

Patchett, Ann "The Dutch House"

Patchett, Ann "The Dutch House" - 2019

This book looked quite promising. It has all the ingredients of a best-seller. And a best-seller it is. I often try to stay away from books that create such a huge hype but I live in Germany and our small bookshops don't carry many English books, so they tend to have them available and I tend to buy them. LOL

The Guardian wrote in their review: "Patchett leads us to a truth that feels like life rather than literature." Very true. However, that might be the reason why I couldn't warm to the book. I just did not like the stepmother. We were meant not to like her, I am sure. But - oh - the amount of times I could have kicked her. At least we learn how much influence an adult has on the life of a child and that this influence lasts for the rest of their lives.

No, I didn't really enjoy this book much but I can see why it gets so much attention. It's not badly written or anything like that but - not for me.


"Like swallows, like salmon, we were the helpless captives of our migratory patterns. We pretended that what we had lost was the house, not our mother, not our father. We pretended that what we had lost has been taken from us by the person who still lived inside…"

From the back cover:

"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."

Ann Patchett was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for "The Dutch House" in 2019.


  1. I read this one for a reading group plus I never miss an Ann Patchett novel. I understand what you felt. I did not like that stepmother at all and I also had some problems with the real mother who left them. Still I loved the boy/man and his sister and the ways they connected throughout their lives. For sure a different look at family life.

    1. Interesting to know that you like Ann Patchett novels. This was my third and I only liked one of them (The Patron Saint of Liars)

      Believe me, I had issues with most of the adults in the book, including the mother and the father, of course. I felt sorry for the boy/man and his sister but that didn't make me like the book any more.

      But I'm not surprised you had the same dislikes.

      Which of Ann Patchett's novels is your favourite?

    2. I have mostly loved all of them but The Patron Saint of Liars is my top favorite.

    3. I see, so no better one to look forward to. LOL

      Thanks for your answer.