- Read Date: November 12, 2019
- Rating: 3.5/5
- Format: Print Book/Audiobook
With an audiobook narrated by Tom Hanks, The Dutch House is the story of two devoted siblings, their journey from childhood into adulthood, and their reliance on and support of each other to overcome the trials of their youth.
The Conroys live in the infamous Dutch House, a large, suburban Pennsylvania mansion that extracts itself from the pages of any Brothers Grimm fairy tale and plants itself on Patchett’s VanHoebeek Street. Here, Danny and Maeve Conroy are raised essentially by their housekeeper, cook, and nanny, as mother left early in their childhood and their father is perhaps only a degree or two above earning the title of “absentee”. A prickly man, Cyril Conroy has created an entire real estate empire that has ushered the Conroy family into immense wealth, wealth that will later be hoarded from Maeve and Danny by their stepmother Andrea. After Andrea and her daughters enter the picture, in true Cinderella fashion, Maeve and Danny are essentially exiled to fend for themselves.
The Dutch House tells of the decades after Andrea’s arrival and is comprised of themes of loyalty, ambition, duty, and, of course, the un-glamorous aspects of love. The Conroy siblings are the personification of how our pasts can haunt us beyond anything we can control or imagine; we are frequently urged to ‘never forget where we came from’ with an air of inspiration and humbleness, but the never-forgetting of the Conroys comes with a darker, more haunting aftertaste.
This is one of those books that I like the more I think about it. Coincidentally, I had the same feeling about Patchett’s Bel Canto, in that I felt quite ambivalent while reading this, but the story and characters and commentary have been impossible to shake. A notable strength of Patchett’s, one she does not fail to capitalize on in The Dutch House, is her ability to craft incredibly gripping characters. She humanizes every single personality in the book, “villains” included, and she clearly defines each individual’s motivations both in their aspect and their action. Maeve and Danny are both fascinating characters, even outside of their circumstance, and are supported by a cast of memorable and respectable characters as well. And, of course, you all know I’m a sucker for a good multi-generational saga!
Buy The Dutch House here or get it at your local library.
As always, lend me your thoughts below, and happy reading!