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The Dutch House

by Ann Patchett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,9321316,085 (4.12)153
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 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.… (more)
  1. 10
    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (shaunie)
    shaunie: The Dutch House is in some ways a slimmed down, more enjoyable Goldfinch.
  2. 05
    Stardust by Neil Gaiman (Sandwich76)
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English (130)  German (1)  All languages (131)
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
Ann Patchett is so varied in her subject matter, but so accomplished in her story-telling, creating characters, relationships, and situations that linger. Here, the Dutch house is a character in itself - a gorgeous mansion in a small town in Pennsylvania that is home to the Conroys: the narrator, Danny, his older sister by 8 years, Maeve and their father Cyril. For Cyril, the house was the family's ticket out of blue-collar life. Their mother is a mystery and a shadow, especially for Danny - she left when he was 3 and there are hints that the house drove her away. He states: "Mothers were the measure of safety." as he reflects on his past. His mother figures are his sister and the 2 "servants" Sandy and Jocelyn who cook and clean. Cyril is a distant father, but in the 50s when the story is set, it is not unusual. He buys and sells buildings which he rehabs, rents and maintains, kind of a real estate baron. Then when Danny is 8ish, which is when the bulk of the story takes place, his father re-marries Andrea, who is a social climber if there ever was one. She seems to be in it for the house, but she brings 2 little girls to the marriage, Norma and Bright and in repressed 50s fashion, they all have to learn to get along. This novel effortlessly spans decades and the heart of it is Danny and Maeve's relationship - they are all each other has. Tragedy strikes, but they weather it. Andrea becomes a villain, the house becomes a mythic entity, and Maeve and Danny become adults with successful lives and relationships despite the hardship. Circling around and around the story are the themes of home - both in the place and the person that embodies it. For Danny that is Maeve; for Maeve that is their missing mother and the Dutch House. In some ways, not a lot happens, just life milestones, but there is also beautiful resolution and returning full circle in unexpected ways. It is wistful and reflective and lovely. The audio version is narrated by Tom Hanks which lends it the right amount of heart and humor and gravity. A little reminiscent of Anne Tyler's books where the characters learn to embrace the life they have that they didn't expect, with the limitless power of love, but a unique epic all its own.
Memorable quote: "There are a few times in life when you leap up and the past that you'd been standing on falls away behind you, and the future you mean to land on is not yet in place, and for a moment you're suspended, knowing nothing and no one, not even yourself. It was an almost unbearably vivid present I found myself in...." (121) ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
I love Ann Patchett, but this did not feel like one of her best. I listened to the audio with Tom Hanks narrating, so maybe I missed something. But this was a very linear novel about a brother and sister from childhood to middle age. The Dutch House itself was just a prop and I didn't feel it was truly needed for the story--yet the title implies it is the story. It's hard to explain without spoiling, but I did not understand why this house was deemed so important/unimportant--and always by women.

Also, Danny and his dad did the exact same thing, and he does not seem to recognize it. ??? That would be something worth discussing in a book group, but really I didn't find much else here. The books is fine, but not as good as most of Patchett's recent novels. ( )
  Dreesie | Oct 21, 2020 |
Tom Hanks is the narrator of this audiobook and it seemed like the perfect fit. Patchett has again drawn characters seemingly from very little and made their story a full one.

Danny and his sister Maeve have a unique relationship. Their dependence on one another is the only real thing they can rely on. The house they grew up in, The Dutch House, has been taken out from under them. For so long, it was an identity. They were the kids that lived in The Dutch House. Once gone and living penniless, the siblings’ connection strengthens further centering around the loss of the house and their financial struggle.

Patchett uses the loss of their father and home to tell a story of grief and love and what can happen when we realize the importance of the people in our lives.

Will they ever get the house back? Who are they without the house and what are they willing to do to get it back? ( )
  AlissaCMiles | Oct 20, 2020 |
44
  IlsaK | Oct 19, 2020 |
A family saga, and a house that defined their lives. Maeve and Danny Conroy are 6 years apart, and they live in The Dutch House, with their father Cyril. Their mother, Elna, left when Danny was 4 and Maeve was 10. Later, Cyril married Andrea, who along with her daughters, Norma and Bright, moved into the house.
Maeve and Danny were meant to feel like outsiders and were soon pushed out of the house. Maeve, Brilliant in math, cared for Danny, and set him up to attend boarding school, then Columbia for college and need school. Danny didn’t want to be a doctor, he wanted to be like his father, and buy and sell real estate.
Maeve and Danny depended on each other, and whenever they would get together, they would drive to The Dutch House and sit in the car in front of the house and talk about all they had lost. The house had an overwhelming pull on them.
This is a story of love and loss, of relationships of family, and those that are like family. It is a story of caring for one another and for holding on to each other. It is a story of learning from the past, but not letting the past define you.
This is a sweeping saga told over 50 years, of a family that is rich financially, but needs to learn to be rich emotionally.
I believe this book has many lessons to it, told against a backdrop of glitter and dust, from Philadelphia to NYC. It will stay with me for some time.
#TheDutchHouse #AnnPatchett ( )
  rmarcin | Oct 17, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patchett, Annprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bilardello, RobinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hanks, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saterstrom, NoahCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is for Patrick Ryan
First words
The first time our father brought Andrea to the Dutch House, Sandy, our housekeeper, came to my sister's room and told us to come downstairs.
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There are a few times in life when you leap up and the past that you'd been standing on falls away behind you, and the future you mean to land on is not yet in place, and for a moment you're suspended, knowing nothing and no one, not even yourself.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 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.

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