My book review of 'The Dutch House' by Ann Patchett

by Ann Patchett
The Dutch House
by Ann Patchett

A brother and sister, Danny and Maeve, are born into a wealthy family and they have a huge, grand house. But this house seems to bring sadness and tragedy. Their mother leaves them when they are still very young and they are left with their father who remarries, then dies and their stepmother sends the children out into the world, without their inheritance.

As they step into careers and build homes for themselves, Danny and Maeve continue to meet up outside the Dutch House. They sit there each month in a car together talking about their lives and thinking back to their childhood, puzzling over the events, trying to make sense of why their mother died and why their father overlooked them in his will, but ultimately why their stepmother was so heartless.

It’s a wonderful read. First I found it so sad, but as it was evident the children were growing up to be resourceful, I was able to enjoy stepping into their lives. The story continues until they are in their late 40s I think and the house remains in their lives.

There is a wonderful relationship between the brother and sister, how they look after each other and cope with each other’s flaws and idiosynchrosies. But it’s very sensitively, subtley done. All the details about the characters are subtle and quietly introduced. There are incidental comments or thoughts, for example, and this makes the characters seem very real.

I loved the images of the brother and sister sitting in the car together, looking at what was their family home. Having lost both parents and not having any other relatives, the house is the constant in their life and a way for them to share memories of their past.

Wonderful. I was sorry when I came to the end.

Date of this review: December 2020
Book publication date: 30th April 2020