The Dutch House by Ann Patchett has been in my to read list for a long time. As soon as I got this book and saw the front page, I knew I’d fall in love with it. It’s a story of so many things: anger, sorrow, atonement, sacrifice, acceptance, and forgiveness. But, to start with, it’s a story of a family.
A particularly wealthy family, who was unlucky enough to live in a dark lavish estate, called the Dutch House. This three stories high mansion, with blue mantels, observatory, and library, is a place to feel happy in, but you can hardly call its inhabitants content.
At first, the house belonged to a rich dutch family, who lost all of their wealth. After the Second World War, Cyril Conroy buys this beautiful house to live in with his wife and two kids, until his wife disappears, leaving their daughter Maeve, sick and devastated. It’s the picture of Maeve, the girl with deep blue eyes and thoughtful look on her face, you can see on the book’s cover.
Danny, Maeve’s younger brother, didn’t remember his mother at all, but he was surrounded by nannies and his sister, who took great care of him. As they were growing up, Maeve and Danny developed an indissoluble bond, which kept them together no matter how their lives changed.
Soon after the mother left, their father, Cyril, brings another woman in the Dutch House. The one that destroys the fragile little world the three of them created. Andrea, as the truly evil-stepmother, exiles siblings from their house. That’s how Danny and Maeve find out they only have each other.
“We had made a fetish out of our misfortune, fallen in love with it.”
The reminiscence of life they had in this enormous dark mansion draw Danny and Maeve back to the Dutch House years after they had been exiled. Growing up, brother and sister strengthen their bond and once again learn how to love, accept, and forgive.
This book keeps your attention until the very end. It’s thrilling, magnetic and it’s very, very real. Ann Patchett describes no perfect people in her novel. She tells an utterly real story that is so relatable it hurts.
Sometimes, you just have a strong feeling in your gut that the book will become your best friend. That its plot will be ingrained in your memory. That’s how it happened to me with the Dutch House. It resonated with everything that was already in me. And I'm incredibly happy it met my great expectations.