book blog · Book Review

Book Review | The Dutch House by Ann Patchett | beautiful houses and evil step-mums


Released: September 2019
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 337 Pages
Source: Library Book
My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Hi Readers!

Ann Patchett made a name for herself back in 2001 with her award winning book Bel Canto. But The Dutch House is the first of hers that I’ve read. I quickly fell in love with everything about it. The characters, the setting, the writing. I can tell she’s an author I will be returning to in the future.

Siblings Danny and Maeve grew up in a lavish house. As children their mother left them, leaving older sister Maeve to care for her brother.
Years later we see Danny and Maeve sitting outside of the Dutch House, which they haven’t been allowed to set foot in for years.

At the heart of this story is The Dutch House. Bought by Danny and Maeve’s lucky in real estate father as a surprise for their mother, would soon set their family on a course of change forever. The house is large in it’s oppulance, it’s history and it’s presence in the characters lives.

This book is narrated by the younger sibling Danny. He doesn’t remember his mother, who ran away when he was just one. He was practically raised by his older sister Maeve, who is his polar opposite.

Maeve was an amazing character and whilst I would have loved it if this book would have been from her much more fierce POV, I think the slight mystery and unknowingness about her is what gives her so much character. She practically sacrificed everything to be there for her younger brother and remembers their mother quite well.

Andrea, the step-mother from hell, was also an amazing character. She’s a dreadful person but it was interesting to see Danny’s understanding of why. This book is basically him looking back and analysing his life and the people around him so he has a very different perspective on Andrea than my own initial judgement.

The Dutch House doesn’t have a lot going on plot wise but is still packed with goodness. It’s about two siblings who are pushed out of their lavish home by their evil step-mother who would give Meredith Blake a run for her money.

It’s told over the course of a few decades, following Danny and his sister from when they were kids into middle-aged adults with children and careers. Years later they still find themselves connected to this house, sitting outside it in their car and recounting memories of when they lived there.

As I said, I fell in love with the writing. It’s a book without huge plot points so it could have been slow paced, but with it moving through time and through different periods of these characters lives I became very engrossed in their story.

Ann Patchett says this book is almost a response to the 2015 election. A time when she thinks wealth was awarded above anything else. She wanted to write a book about people who didn’t want that wealth. This book is both about people who used to have the comfort of money, and also ran away from that.

“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.”

– Ann Patchett, The Dutch House

Would I Read Again? Yes
Would I Recommend? To people who enjoy character driven stories, yes.

Thanks for reading,
Jess X