ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ann Patchett is an American author best known for her fiction novels Bel Canto and The Patron Saint of Liars. She received the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2002 for her novel Bel Canto. Patchett has authored more than a dozen books to date. In 2012, Patchett made it to the ‘Time 100’ list, published by the TIME magazine, of the most influential people in the world.
Her latest book, titled The Dutch House, has consistently featured in the top 20 books in Amazon’s fiction category. The book was also declared a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Many prominent websites have labelled the book as a must-read.
We had made a fetish out of our misfortune, fallen in love with it.
The Dutch House is the story of the relationship between two siblings, Danny and Maeve. Their bond goes through linear timelines over the course of five decades. Narrated by Danny, the story is a poignant family drama weaved together through folklore such as Cinderella and Hansel & Gretel. The book delves into the profound theme of forgiveness, and explores the significance of a healthy family life.
Self-made real-estate businessman, Cyril Conroy, tries to surprise his wife Elna by gifting her a large mansion, The Dutch House. After striking a highly lucrative deal, he cannot help but boast of his achievements before his wife. Elna, however, finds the mansion suffocating and abandons her family, leaving her aloof husband with their two children. With the arrival of Andrea, the evil stepmother, along with her two daughters, the life of the siblings goes further downhill.
Andrea kicks Danny and Maeve out of the house following their father’s demise. She leaves the kids on the street, unloved and uncared for. This marks the beginning of the siblings’ relationship, which blossoms into a beautiful friendship and provides them with the much-needed emotional support. Maeve steps into the role of a mother for Danny and sees to his education and well-being. Just like Hansel & Gretel, they seem to fend off monsters together, the only difference being the monsters are incredibly personal.
Do you think it’s possible to ever see the past as it actually was?
The house is a real piece of art, an epitome of luxury that leaves people gaping at its opulence. However, for Danny and Maeve, the house is not so much of an architectural wonder as an obsessive nostalgia. Even after they obtain university degrees, secure jobs, and, in Danny’s case, marry and have kids, they find themselves imprisoned in their past. The two share a attachment to the house and the heartbreaking childhood memories it evokes. The duo often parks across the street to regularly watch Andrea and her daughters go about their daily lives.
Life eventually comes full circle for them when Cyril’s daughter buys the house, giving her family and the house a chance at redemption.
With her impeccable writing skills, Ann Patchett successfully turns a domestic drama into a well-crafted tale of reminiscence and familial ties. The characters are fleshed out thoughtfully. In fact, she even succeeds in breathing life into the inanimate house. What adds to the appeal of the book is the audio version narrated by the renowned actor, Tom Hanks, as the younger brother Danny Conroy. All in all, The Dutch House is an absolute must-have for every enviable bookshelf.
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