November 8, 2019
Genre/Categories: Complicated Family Drama, Literary Fiction
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Siblings Danny and Maeve are living in The Dutch House when their mother abandons the family. Their father remarries, but after he dies, their stepmother kicks Danny and Maeve out of her life and out of the house. Suddenly, all Danny and Maeve have is each other. This story explores their complicated lives and relationships.
Amazon Rating: 4.4 Stars
Writing: If you love Ann Patchett and her heavily character-driven stories and beautifully written literary fiction, you will likely love The Dutch House. If you’re looking for a page-turning plot, you might like to look elsewhere. If you love complicated family drama with a great deal of reflection, stick around! Danny and Maeve analyze every aspect of their childhood experiences including the domestic help, their father, the stepmother and her children, and, of course, the Dutch House.
Characters: Danny is the matter-of-fact narrator and Maeve is the overprotective and, at times, controlling older sister. We feel a great deal of compassion for these siblings as we learn more about their abandonment in various ways by mom, dad, and stepmother. One character I had difficulty connecting with was the mom….her actions were not believable to me.
Themes: Thoughtful themes in The Dutch House include an incredibly close sibling relationship, the effects of abandonment on children, wealth and privilege, materialism, family loyalty, expectations, revenge, greed, compassion, childhood, and memories. If my book club reads this, one topic I’d like to discuss is the house as a symbol or metaphor for childhood. The most fascinating part of the story for me is when Danny and Maeve return to the house (parking out front) over and over again throughout their lives to reminisce about their childhood and to work through their various viewpoints and feelings. It seems to me that this “therapy” is the real heart of the story.
Audio: I listened to the audio of The Dutch House because I couldn’t resist Tom Hanks as the reader! He is magnificent as Danny! Honestly, this story might have been a DNF for me except for the performance of Tom Hanks. I highly recommend the audio version!
Content Warning: Medical issues related to diabetes
Recommended: I recommend The Dutch House for fans of Ann Patchett, for those who appreciate literary fiction, and for readers who love character-driven stories and beautiful writing.
My Rating: 3.5 Stars (rounded to 4 stars on Goodreads)
The Dutch House Information (affiliate link)
Meet the Author, Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett was born in Los Angeles in 1963 and raised in Nashville. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 1990, she won a residential fellowship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she wrote her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars. Patchett is well known for Bel Canto. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Karl VanDevender.
Are you an Ann Pachett fan? If so, what is your favorite Ann Pachett book?
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