The Dutch Houseby Published 24 Sep 2019
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The Dutch House Ebook Description
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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 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.
The Dutch House Reviews
Sometimes in a novel, a place is such a strong and integral part of the story that it deserves as much attention as if it were a character. The house in this novel exerts so much influence over the lives of the characters, sometimes more so than the other people in their lives. The house, with its big windows and ornate design is a symbol of success for Cyril Conroy, the self made real estate developer. To his wife Elna, it is everything that is wrong with the world, when so many others have nothing. To their children, Maeve and Danny, it is where they live. As adults, it’s much more complex; it represents everything they lost. To Conroy’s second wife Andrea, it’s a possession she has to have. Narrated by Danny, the story moves back and forth from their childhood over decades, a family saga of sorts, but the Conroy family for most of the novel is just the two of them, Danny and Maeve.
This is in so many ways about the past, the past they can’t let go of, the past that shapes who they become as adults. “Do you think it’s possible to ever see the past as it actually was?” Danny asks his sister Maeve. “ I see the past as it actually was,” Maeve said. Danny responds “ But we overlay the present onto the past. We look back through the lens of what we know, so we’re not seeing it as the people we were, we’re seeing it as the people we are, and that means the past has been radically altered.” ** It’s also about sibling love and sacrifice as the brilliant Maeve gives up so much of her life to care for Danny, to make sure he is okay. I was so emotionally connected to them and I loved their relationship. It was at times heartbreaking to see how deep seated these wounds of the past are for both of them .
The plot, which captured me from the beginning is one the reader should discover for themselves, so no spoilers here. The bottom line is that I loved pretty much everything about the book - the writing, the characters, the story. I found it nearly perfect and it is 4.5 stars because of something in the end that I found hard to reconcile. I keep a list of favorite writers and Ann Patchett has been on that list for quite a while now. I’ve read every novel she’s published. Her characters always feel fully developed and making an emotional connection is easy because she allows us to know them. Definitely recommended!
I read this with Diane and Esil as one of our ongoing buddy reads and as always appreciate their thoughts.
**Quotes are from the advanced copy.
I received an advanced copy of this book from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.
Danny and Maeve are siblings who can’t overcome their past. Abandoned by their mother at an early age, Maeve, the oldest, assumes the mother role. Everything changes further when their emotionally distant father marries the evil stepmother and the children are cut out of their inheritance. The pain, bitterness, and anger shapes their personalities and their future. How do they move past such a childhood?
My questions: What does forgiveness look like? Does forgiveness mean you allow toxic people back into your life? Is that healthy? What is required of the person(s) who did you wrong? I have my own thoughts about these issues but you’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself.
Commonwealth is one of my favorite books and this was one of my most anticipated books of the year. The first 75% was riveting reading. But the story took a turn that I found unrealistic and ridiculous. I can’t say more without spoilers but I’m glad I could vent to my reading buddy Marialyce. I’ve tried to discern the author’s purpose in writing this book and it either escapes me or it’s one I can’t buy into.
* I received a copy of the book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
* for our duo review of this and other books please visit https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...
"But we overlay the present onto the past. We look back through the lens of what we know now, so we're not seeing it as the people we were, we're seeing it as the people we are, and that means the past has been radically altered."
Siblings Danny and Maeve Conroy grew up in The Dutch House, a lavish home in the Philadelphia suburbs. Once the home of a Dutch family that owned most of the area, their artwork and interior decorating still remain throughout the infamous estate. While their real-estate-investor father loves the house and sees it as a jewel in his empire, their mother was repulsed by all the infamous home represented, and she left when Danny was very young.
Left with a father generally incapable of doing more than providing the material comforts for his children, Maeve helped raise Danny, with the help of the family's two housekeepers. The two siblings, despite their age difference, formed an unshakable bond, one which became even more crucial when their father married again, this time a younger woman with two young daughters of her own. Their stepmother's dislike of them was apparent to them from the very start, although their father seemed oblivious and/or disinterested in her treatment of them, as he was more interested in keeping the peace in his household than anything else.
When their stepmother gets the opportunity, she exiles Danny and Maeve from the house—and cuts off their access to any of the money that should be theirs. Left with nothing, they are forced to fend for themselves and have only each other to survive. And while they cannot seem to get The Dutch House out of their minds, given that it was such an enormous part of their lives, they want more than anything to understand the actions of their parents, which led them to where they are now.
While this isn't a suspenseful book, there are a few surprises that are better to unfold as you read it rather than have them revealed. This is a book that was paced a lot slower than I like, but there is a lot of richness to behold, including emotion, nostalgia, family dynamics, and even a little humor. What fascinated me even more is what a major character the house itself played, much like in Howards End or Rebecca .
I've been a big fan of Ann Patchett's since reading Bel Canto a number of years ago. I love the way she tells a story. (Her nonfiction is excellent, too—check out Truth and Beauty or This is the Story of a Happy Marriage .) I have enjoyed some of her other books more than this one, but it's still worth a read, and I believe both Patchett fans and those who've never read her work will enjoy this, especially those who like stories of family relationships gone awry.
See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.
Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.
You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
So close to be a masterpiece, a dysfunctional family story starts in this humongous, grandiose mansion, where ex inhabitants had died and left their belongings including their portraits hanging on the walls and it ends there as we move back and forth between the timelines to read the story narrated by Danny, second child of the family. But please go and order an audiobook because TOM HANKS is fantastic, impeccable, meticulous narrator. (Yes, he is our Danny boy).
So as a result paperback version: 4 stars
Audiobook: 5 stars
Let’s rounded 4.5 up to 5 celebration of master story telling stars!
I started to read the book and I was about to give four stars ! Please, don’t get me wrong, I love the writing and those vivid characters, I was about to give million slaps to one of them: Yes, EVIL STEPMOM ANDREA, I’m talking about you! But slow pace and too many jumping between time lines a little exhausted me. But as soon as I learned Tom Hanks is on the board, I stopped reading and I started listening to the book with a huge smile on my face.
Danny and Maeve will always stay on my mind and heart as amazing siblings. Their mother abandoned them. (Actually she was another version of Mother Theresa and she rejected to live in a mansion when too many poor people suffer out there so she left the place. She still loved her husband and she didn’t intend to leave her children. Her belief as social responsibilities always come first even it means to neglect her own family is irritated me so much! I’m not quite fan of this character. But thanks God, we have evil stepmother to hate more!)
And their father passed away when he was only 53. They both lost their parents at young age but what they didn’t know they would be also homeless with great scheme her stepmother dearest had planned details with her lawyer. She got the control of the business of their father and she got the Dutch House to live with her two daughters. So she kicked her step kids out. She even tried to prevent Danny take money from trust fund for his education because Danny chose an expensive school and her own daughters couldn’t get the highest education they need, if all the money would spend for Danny’s needs. (At least her attempts were stopped by their father’s lawyer this time. I think Andrea deserved a special place in hell but in my opinion, hell would be like a spa treatment for her!)
So all the losses they suffered, keep united this brother and sister against the entire world. They became each other’s priorities and supported each other for every big life decisions. (Maeve helped him to connect with his future wife even they didn’t get along for a long time and resented each other!)
They grew up, but they resumed going to the Dutch House and stopped their cars in front of the place, waited to see any activity around or inside and they left. THAT BECAME THEIR ROUTINE FOR YEARS like visiting an old relative they check randomly to make sure she’ still alive!
Years passed, they got old. They resumed going back there…Till one day their mother returned back and requested them to drive her to the house and finally she bangs on the door to meet with Andrea. That is the beginning of some endings! The house was like a living and functioning organism marked the milestones of the sibling’s lives and changed them forever.
Past and future combined with sadness, regrets, resentments, sister and brother’s devotion, marriage, nostalgia, childhood memories, unfinished businesses, yearning for real and functional family, life decisions.
As the life moved on , two siblings’ a special piece of their hearts always stayed with that house, buried there, even they thought they moved on but they couldn’t. Because house gave them hope that one day their mother could return. House made them grow up earlier. House made them connect with their maids, nanny ( also mistress of their father) and many childhood happy memories. Even they’ve kicked out, they have never left the place and the house never left them, too. It left a vulnerable scar on their mind and soul. It always stayed with them till the end of their lives.
Amazing story-telling, remarkable characterization and best narration!
What a freaking masterpiece this is!!
Let's begin with prior to reading this book, I was impartial on books by Ann Patchett. I previously had only read Commonwealth and liked it, but it wasn't something I would climb to the top of a mountain and yell about. This book is.
I'm not going to get into the summary because I went in as blind as I could (I requested an ARC on NG and EW purely on the fact that it was Ann Patchett and I LOVED the cover) and I think that benefited me. I had no expectations whatsoever. Within the first few pages I was hooked. Ms. Patchett's beautiful writing had my jaw on the floor. I am in awe of her talent and it played out so well in my mind that I was in that house with them. I was sitting next to them in the car. I was the fly on the wall. I was there.
If you like books that make you feel a spectrum of emotions with a side of laughter for a few quirky characters - than this book is absolutely a MUST READ. I experienced being vehemently angry, to laughing out loud to such utter sadness...If this isn't made into a series on TV or a movie, I don't know what is wrong with people. The characters in this story (my favorite is Maeve hands down) are so complex and relatable and REAL. You hate them, you forgive them, you desperately love them. I cannot say enough good things about it. I love books that make me feel something and this one did, a million times over.
Thank you to Edelweiss, Harpercollins and Ann Patchett for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.
Review Date: 09/27/19
Publication Date: 09/24/19