Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Audiobook Length: 9 hours and 53 minutes
First Published: 2019
Shortly after World War II, a real estate mogul buys The Dutch House, a lavish estate outside of Philadelphia. This purchase changes everything for his children, Danny and Maeve – driving out their mother, and leading to Cyril’s remarriage and their exile from the house by their stepmother. A captivating study of the bond between siblings, The Dutch House shows the dangers of obsessive nostalgia and fascinates with Patchett’s signature style.
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 unshakeable 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.
Quotes from The Dutch House
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.
Do you think it’s possible to ever see the past as it actually was?
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.
We had made a fetish out of our misfortune, fallen in love with it.
There would never been an end to all the things I wished I’d asked my father
About Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett is the author of eight novels, four nonfiction books, and one children’s book. Her works include The Patron Saint of Liars, Bel Canto, Commonwealth, These Precious Days, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, and The Dutch House. She is the co-owner of the bookstore Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee where she lives with her husband. Visit the author’s website →