The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
JOINT REVIEW ~ THE DUTCH HOUSE
Been waiting to use my coat (yes the painting is on the back of my favourite coat) as a background on the grid! The Dutch House, a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, is a book Sophie has insisted I borrow from the initial stages of our love affair and it did not disappoint.
This is delicate, profound prose that slowly envelopes you until you are deeply invested. The characters are developed as the plot progresses in such a nuanced way you don’t realise it happening. Patchett is a tremendously vivid writer, I could close my eyes and visualise the house, the grounds, the paintings and the family so clearly.
A rich family drama following a brother and sister from an author who is utterly adored by her readers, and I can understand why. The audiobook is narrated by Tom Hanks and I am sorely tempted to enjoy it again through his dulcet tones. Ok Sophie. You win this round.
You know those books that you love so much that if someone tells you they weren’t that keen, you just don’t feel the same about that person anymore? The Dutch House, for me, is that book.
Spanning over five decades, this is the story of a family — of siblings, largely — with their house at the centre. A glorious, opulent house with a sadness behind its facade, it is the home that Cyril Conroy buys for his first wife, Elna, without telling her, before their children are born. It is also the house that Elna will leave and the one he will live in with his second wife, Andrea. She will become stepmother to those children and lets just say, the term wicked stepmother is quite the appropriate one here.
A multi-generational family saga is what I live, or rather, read for. But this one — this one is exquisite on every possible level. Patchett is a storyteller of the greatest kind — she makes you feel like you are watching the novel unfold before your eyes in the most perfect of ways and yet includes and absorbs you as part of it at the same time. She is at the height of her powers here — you will not regret a single second of reading it.