The Dutch House

The Dutch House

by Ann Patchett


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From the New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth andState of Wonder, comes Ann Patchett’s most powerful novel to date: a richly moving story that explores the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go. The Dutch House is the story of a paradise lost, a tour de force that digs deeply into questions of inheritance, love and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves and of who we really are.

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakeable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062963673
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/24/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,457
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

ANN PATCHETT is the author of seven novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, State of Wonder, and Commonwealth. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction, Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer, Lucy Grealy, What now? an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, and, most recently, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays.

In November 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her partner Karen Hayes. She has since gone on to be a spokesperson for independent booksellers, talking about books and bookstores on “The Colbert Report,” NPR, “The Martha Stewart Show” and “The CBS Early Show.” Along with James Patterson she was the honorary chair of World Book Night. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Ann Patchett lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Karl VanDevender, and their dog, Sparky.


Nashville, Tennessee

Date of Birth:

December 2, 1963

Place of Birth:

Los Angeles, California


B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1985; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1987

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The Dutch House: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Loved the study in human behavior!
Anonymous 27 days ago
i enjoyed the depth of characterization, skillful use of literary devices, and that subtle crafting of plot that brought lives to become people i knew and cared about. i recommend this book highly.
Anonymous 27 days ago
I remember how I felt when I finished the Paton Saint of Liars. She was so gifted. And I have continued to read Ann Patchett, because how could I Not? I haven’t loved everything, but almost. This is a wonderfully complex story that I was sorry to see end.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Danny, the young brother, narrates a book about his & hie sister's childhood home and the all-important place it holds in their lives -- and in the memories of those who lived there/worked there/ wanted it/ abandoned it/ were obsessed by it. Different characters have different takes on how to find fulfillment. There's often a disconnect between characters but there is love also and ultimately forgiveness. It was well written, but there was so much darkness that I was hoping for more light. I think everyone who reads it will come away either satisfied or saddened depending on individual life experiences and perspectives.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Great read
MaryND 5 months ago
I have a shortlist of authors whose books are a must, and Ann Patchett is on it—I know that whatever she publishes will be beautifully written and compelling, and “The Dutch House” is no exception. Beginning in the 1950s and spanning around 50 years, the novel is narrated by Danny Conroy and (unlike Patchett’s previous book, “Commonwealth,” which covered the same time period but sprawled among the multiple perspectives of members of a large, blended family) is closely focused on Danny and his older sister Maeve and the impact their childhood home has had on their lives. I don’t want to give too much of “The Dutch House” away, but suffice it to say that Maeve and Danny have a missing mother and a new stepmother as the book begins, and the absence and presence of both these women in their lives—and the devastating consequences that result—can be directly traced to the Dutch House. Patchett moves back and forth in time throughout the novel, bridging these jumps with trips the adult Maeve and Danny make to the Dutch House throughout the years, where they smoke cigarettes in their car and reminisce about how the house changed their lives; I particularly liked this structural manifestation of the emotional hold the house, and their past there, has on Maeve and Danny throughout their lives, constantly pulling them back. So much more to say, but I really believe this is a book whose many charms should be left for readers to discover themselves. Highly recommended. Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for providing me with an ARC of this book in return for my honest review.
Anonymous 20 days ago
long chapters but a great story with every real characters. I loved it. great dialog too.
Anonymous 20 days ago
X_in_SF 21 days ago
A simply beautiful book - one of her best. Characters and story stay with you for a while.
CPAC2012 27 days ago
Danny and Maeve Conroy were just children when their reticent father married an overly ambitious, younger woman. The repercussions of that union would be hard to foresee but were in no way surprising given the level of antagonism that built up along the years. The majestic house in which they lived, loomed large on the relationship between the Conroys and the family that came to be after. Spanning a period of forty years in the lives of Danny Conroy, the narrator, and his sister, Maeve, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett unfolds memoir-style, in a fluid timeline, moving back and forth in time to propel this family drama relentlessly forward. The result is an addictive, unflinching look at the making and unmaking of a marriage—or several in this case— and the repercussions for the younger generation left to pick up the pieces. I was entranced by the depth of the story and character development. I liked the ‘Dutch house’ and had no trouble visualizing how that ostentatious house loomed large in the consciousness of the Conroy children and their stepsisters. I loved both Danny and Maeve; they were dealt a tough hand of cards and had to learn to live accordingly. I had no sympathy for the abandoning mother and the evil stepmother, but their dynamics with the younger generation made for one heck of a novel. I can’t wait to explore Ann Patchett’s body of work or what she writes next.
GratefulGrandma 3 months ago
I finished listening to The Dutch House, narrated by Tom Hanks and it felt like I was saying goodbye to friends. I am still thinking about this story, it's characters, the themes, and the house itself. This is something very different from anything I have read before. This is a modern day fairytale, complete with the evil stepmother, a father dying young and children exiled from the life they knew. The story is told from the point of view of Danny Conroy, the youngest of the two Conroy children. Danny Conroy and his sister, Maeve, grow up in a huge home that is the Dutch House, a 1920s mansion in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. It’s a building with huge, wide windows, giving every passerby the opportunity to look inside. Danny's narration is a look inside the lives of the Conroy family. Cyril Conroy was a self-made man who bought the Dutch House and all its contents. His wife hated the house, and eventually left, leaving the children behind. When Danny is 10, his father remarries and moves in with her two daughters. Danny and Maeve love the children, they do not love their new step-mother and the feeling is mutual. When their father dies unexpectedly five years later, Danny is thrown out of the house to move in with Maeve, they only have each other to rely on. This is a story about family, decisions, forgiveness, obsession, dreams, and honesty. The Dutch House is as much a character in this book as the human characters as this story shows us how one family's dynamics are affected by it as well as each other. There were times that I loved Maeve and times that I was so angry with her. She pushed Danny to follow a path that was not his, but was for revenge. She also didn't take care of herself like she should have causing a lot of grief. Having said that, the relationship between her and Danny was amazing. This was sibling love that was far-reaching and unshakable. When their mother returns, it is heartbreaking to see how Danny's emotions are brought to the surface for a person that he really didn't know. This book is very much character driven, not plot driven. We go through the lifespan of a family and witness their lives. There are a lot of other characters, but they all revolve around Danny and Maeve. The Dutch House is a slow, but immersive story. Before you know it, you're drawn to these characters and want to know what's going on in their simple lives. It’s full of questions that invite judgement and decisions that demand reactions. It was a book that was not on my radar until I saw that Tom Hanks was narrating it and I jumped at the chance to listen to it. I was hooked by this story and definitely recommend it to lovers of family sagas, something a bit different, and even those who love modern day fairytales. Tom Hanks did an amazing job with the narration. He was Danny in my mind and I definitely recommend you listen to this one if you have the opportunity. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this audiobook at my request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Another luminous novel by Ann Patchett. In re-visiting her works, it feels to me like her books are about family -- the family you are born into, the family you choose, or sometimes, the family that leaves you. But the main character here is the title character -- the Dutch House. This magnificent mansion is purchased as a surprise by a man for his wife. And different characters move into and out of the house over the decades, but the house remains surprisingly unchanged. Her genius in describing normal daily interactions in families, between siblings or spouses, is understated and emotionally articulate. The plot always has a few surprises. She is a thoughtful and compelling novelist and storyteller. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest reviews.
DeediReads 3 months ago
“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.” If you keep up with the world of recent book releases, you’ve probably heard by now that The Dutch House’s audiobook is narrated by Tom Hanks. And yes, I heard you just go, “oOoOoOoh.” Your reaction is entirely appropriate. This audiobook is glorious. The story itself, too, is beautifully written and some really top-notch literary fiction. If you’ve read any other books by Ann Patchett, this won’t surprise you either. So basically what we have here is two masters of their respective crafts coming together to make magic. MAGIC. The Dutch House is narrated by the story’s main character, Danny. He tells us about his life, from childhood to old age, jumping forward and backward in time in creative and illuminating ways. He and his sister, Maeve, have been close his entire life. When Danny was little, their mother left — fleeing a stifling (to her) life of comfort to go “help the poor.” So they live in the Dutch House, a grand estate near Philadelphia, with their father, until he remarries a woman named Andrea who has two daughters of her own and absolutely no love at all for Danny and Maeve. (What she loves, it turns out, is the house.) After their father tragically passes away, Andrea kicks them out, and Danny and Maeve adjust to a new reality with no one for family but one another. The rest of the story illuminates the gratingly human experience of nostalgia, old wounds, family, independence, and love. I did find that the jumping timelines were occasionally tricky to keep up with, but once I settled into the format, I began to see how important it was to the overall story, and I think it was a really interesting literary device. I love Maeve, both as an independent character and the way Danny sees her through his own eyes. Again, this is brought to life even more beautifully through Tom Hanks’s narration. If you are a fan of literary fiction, definitely don’t miss this one. And I highly recommend the audiobook.
JillMlibrarian 3 months ago
“The Dutch House” starts off slow but deepens and brightens in a long slow burn of Patchett’s genius. A natural for book clubs with its complex interrelationships, the book gets better and better right to the last page. Over decades, with first-person narrator Danny and his beloved sister Maeve Conroy at the center, connections are broken, shuffled, and reforged. Old scores get settled or fade into irrelevance with the passage of time. Characters, even Danny, evolve in surprising ways. The house itself could be counted as a character in the novel, and the opulent mansion is both embraced and rejected, by turns holding characters in its thrall and forgotten—almost. I received an Advance Readers Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
JennyLibrarian 4 months ago
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review. I'm very parsimonious with my 5 star reviews but the Dutch House deserves 5 stars in my opinion. I've read one other Ann Patchett book, Bel Canto - which was also a 5 star book. What did I love about this book? I loved the twists and turns that surprised me and kept me reading. I liked all of the characters and cared about each of them, even evil Andrea. I enjoyed the narrative style which flashed back and forth through time, but not in a confusing way. Another great book!
CRSK 5 months ago
This is the third book of Patchett’s that I’ve read, the first being State of Wonder, the second, Commonwealth, and this is one adds to the proof that she was born to write these complex family dramas where each character equally shares the wounds of all involved. A little like a fairy tale flipped upside-down, this story includes an imposing, castle-like house, which seems to affect each character differently, as though abiding inside these walls seems to create an entirely different relationship between the house and each character. It begins as World War II is ending, and this then poor young family who have been living in base housing, living a happy, if simple life find their world upended when the father, Cyril, buys a house – unbeknownst to his young wife and young daughter, Maeve. The wife, Elna, is… well, impressed by the house, but the impression isn’t a good one, and she can’t imagine how this house could be theirs when they are poor. Something must be wrong beyond her feeling that this is far too ostentatious for her to ever feel comfortable living in. As the story moves along, the house becomes more and more like another character, creating tension as time passes, and representing the failures of the past as well as the shattered hopes and dreams for the members of this family, as well. As time passes, it continues to pull both Danny and his sister Maeve back time and again to confront their feelings of anger and their regrets over the past. Narrated by the son, Danny, it seemed as though these were stories shared by and about real people, and imparted with the grace and dignity offered to cherished loved ones. Many thanks to HarperCollins Publishers, Harper
LHill2110 5 months ago
Writing: 4.5/5 Plot: 4/5 Characters: 5/5 A family drama told largely through recollection in a loosely ordered, but well-timed set of memories. Danny tells the story — full of recognition of his then-obliviousness — of himself, his older sister Maeve, and their sometimes senseless path through life. Much of the story centers around the Dutch House — the outrageously lavish estate purchased by their newly-minted real estate mogul father at the end of WWII) — which purchase begins the unraveling of their family. I’m a big Ann Patchett fan — her insight into character and how it is expressed and molded by events and situations is incomparable. While sometimes frustrating in the cluelessness of characters (as seen from our safe reader’s perch) and lack of closure, the story is ultimately a realistic portrayal of the way lives and relationships evolve and what we do and don’t learn from the path. It’s one of those books that gets even better the more you think about it after reading.
ElleRudy 5 months ago
This is my first Ann Patchett novel, and it’s probably not going to be a common starting point in her body of work, but I’m definitely a fan of her’s after completing it. I don’t know if I could describe the plot to someone if they asked, so there’s not much of risk of spoilers here even if I wanted to give them. Patchett puts as much care and color into her characters as an artist puts into each brushstroke of a painting. If you told me she also created the portrait of Maeve on the cover, I would believe you. There’s no great twists or action-packed plot, just wonderful writing about complicated family dynamics. So many times I was filled with anger or resentment that mirrored a character’s, and sometimes surpassing it. Only to, by the end of it all, have it evaporate away and leave me wondering why I felt so much. To those with your own familial tensions: expect to be confronted with them as well. It’s not a sad book; it’s sad the way life is. Or beautiful the way life is. Or unfair the way life is. I really didn’t mean to write such a melancholic review, but I guess this is where I ended up. But in case there’s any confusion, I recommend picking up The Dutch House.
Anonymous 5 months ago
This novel is certain to be one of the "big" novels of the fall. Its author Ann Patchett is well known for her thoughtful, literary style and moving story lines The Dutch House will be welcomed by Patchett's loyal readers and may well attract some new fans. The book tells the story of siblings, Maeve and Danny, those around them and the home that resonates with them. The story moves back and forth in time as characters and their stories take center stage or temporarily recede. This is a complex and sophisticated novel that makes readers think about relationships (parent/child, stepparent/child, husband/wife, siblings, step-siblings, those who work for families), finding a way in life, sacrifices and choices. Readers will not forget The Dutch House and those who lived there. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this read in exchange for an honest review.
Peppyob 5 months ago
The Dutch House is an intense examination of the complicated family relationships in the Conroy family. The story is narrated by Danny Conroy unveiling the deep unbreakable bond between Danny and his overprotective,domineering, but loving, sister Maeve over the course of five decades. The Dutch House itself is a pivotal element of the story.The relationships between parents and children, siblings and husbands and wives are all affected in some way by the house. Elna,Danny and Maeve’s birth mother hated the house and the decadent opulence it represented. Andrea, their “wicked” stepmother has an ungodly obsession with the house and will stop at nothing to control and possess it. When her husband Cyril Conroy(Danny and Maeve’s father), unexpectedly dies, she gains sole ownership of the house and evicts the two from the home. Despite their exile, Danny and especially Maeve could not let go of their emotional attachment to the house that they grew up in as well as the loss of their previous lifestyle. As a result of their banishment, Maeve takes control of the direction of Danny’s life choices which he reluctantly accepts. A surprise twist in the story throws a curve into Danny and Maeve’s relationship. Their ability for forgiveness is tested. A reminder that nothing in life is a sure thing. A memorable read.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Anonymous 4 months ago
I want to finish the book.
Anonymous 5 months ago