BOOK REVIEW: ANN PATCHETT – THE DUTCH HOUSE

Today, it’s a review of a book I enjoyed so much! It’s the brilliant The Dutch House from Ann Patchett.

The Dutch House is the latest novel from Ann Patchett and is a bestseller and a lot of people have been loving it online. This is my first time reading anything from Ann Patchett but I really enjoyed it. But first, what’s it about? Here’s the blurb:

Danny Conroy grows up in the Dutch House, a lavish mansion. Though his father is distant and his mother is absent, Danny has his beloved sister Maeve: Maeve, with her wall of black hair, her wit, her brilliance. Life is coherent, played out under the watchful eyes of the house’s former owners in the frames of their oil paintings.

Then one day their father brings Andrea home. Though they cannot know it, her arrival to the Dutch House sows the seed of the defining loss of Danny and Maeve’s lives. The siblings are drawn back time and again to the place they can never enter, knocking in vain on the locked door of the past. For behind the mystery of their own exile is that of their mother’s: an absence more powerful than any presence they have known.

Told with Ann Patchett’s inimitable blend of humour, rage and heartbreak, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale and story of a paradise lost; of the powerful bonds of place and time that magnetize and repel us for our whole lives.

Sounds good, right? There are a number of things I loved about this book, but the main one being how slow it is. At first, I thought it was a bit too slow for me but in the end, I preferred it. I found it a book to savour and to enjoy and I really enjoyed being lost in the story with a wonderful ensemble of characters. I loved the relationship between Danny and Meave – straight away I felt their relationship and I enjoyed reading how that develops as time moves on and they come back to the Dutch House again and again.

This is my first time with Ann Patchett but what a writer. You could tell she was in control and there are a lot of beautiful passages of writing. She has managed to tell a story that spans decades but never moving away from the centre of the novel – the dynamics within a family. The book explores family, grief, loss, love, growing up, responsibility and so much more. There’s been a lot of comparisons to a fairy tale which I think, again, adds an extra layer to the overall book.

I also love, love, love this cover so much. At the end of the book (I’m not sure if this is just in the exclusive Waterstones edition) but there’s an essay from Ann Patchett all about the cover of the book. I love how she said she didn’t want a house on the front cover as that is down to the reader to imagine what the house looks like. I found it a great read, especially as it’s such a striking cover – and the special Waterstones sprayed edges are just beautiful. It would make a perfect Christmas gift!

There were a few niggles for me in the book. I would have liked to have heard more from  Meave – perhaps if Danny and Meave shared the voice of the novel to give us both sides? I felt annoyed and frustrated with Danny’s narration a lot of the time and felt that Meave’s story wasn’t told in the fullest way that it could. But that’s just a tiny detail as I really enjoyed being immersed in this story – a perfect book for this time of the year.

I can’t wait to read more from Ann Patchett. Have you read The Dutch House? What did you think? What’s your favourite Ann Patchett book? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

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