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The Dutch House
Cover of The Dutch House
The Dutch House
A Novel

Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

New York Times Bestseller | A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick | A New York Times Book Review Notable Book | TIME Magazine's 100 Must-Read Books of 2019

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR, The Washington Post; O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Refinery29, and Buzzfeed

Ann Patchett, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth, delivers her 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.

Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

New York Times Bestseller | A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick | A New York Times Book Review Notable Book | TIME Magazine's 100 Must-Read Books of 2019

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR, The Washington Post; O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Refinery29, and Buzzfeed

Ann Patchett, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth, delivers her 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.

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Awards-
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.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    June 15, 2019
    Their mother's disappearance cements an unbreakable connection between a pair of poor-little-rich-kid siblings. Like The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer or Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach, this is a deeply pleasurable book about a big house and the family that lives in it. Toward the end of World War II, real estate developer and landlord Cyril Conroy surprises his wife, Elna, with the keys to a mansion in the Elkins Park neighborhood of Philadelphia. Elna, who had no idea how much money her husband had amassed and still thought they were poor, is appalled by the luxurious property, which comes fully furnished and complete with imposing portraits of its former owners (Dutch people named VanHoebeek) as well as a servant girl named Fluffy. When her son, Danny, is 3 and daughter, Maeve, is 10, Elna's antipathy for the place sends her on the lam--first occasionally, then permanently. This leaves the children with the household help and their rigid, chilly father, but the difficulties of the first year pale when a stepmother and stepsisters appear on the scene. Then those problems are completely dwarfed by further misfortune. It's Danny who tells the story, and he's a wonderful narrator, stubborn in his positions, devoted to his sister, and quite clear about various errors--like going to medical school when he has no intention of becoming a doctor--while utterly committed to them. "We had made a fetish out of our disappointment," he says at one point, "fallen in love with it." Casually stated but astute observations about human nature are Patchett's (Commonwealth, 2016, etc.) stock in trade, and she again proves herself a master of aging an ensemble cast of characters over many decades. In this story, only the house doesn't change. You will close the book half believing you could drive to Elkins Park and see it. Like the many-windowed mansion at its center, this richly furnished novel gives brilliantly clear views into the lives it contains.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 1, 2019
    A 1920s mansion worms into the lives of the broken family that occupies it in another masterly novel from Patchett (Commonwealth). In 1945, Brooklyn-born real-estate entrepreneur Cyril Conroy purchases the Dutch House in Elkins Park, outside Philadelphia, and presents it, complete with Delft mantels, life-size portraits of the original owners, a ballroom, and staff, to his wife. She hates it. She runs away to serve the poor, abandoning her 10-year-old daughter, Maeve, and three-year-old son, Danny. Five years later, Maeve and Danny meet Conroy’s second wife. The second Mrs. Conroy adores the house. When Cyril dies, she keeps it, dispossessing Maeve and Danny of any inheritance except funds for Danny’s education, which they use to send Danny to Choate, Columbia, and medical school. Grown-up Danny narrates, remembering his sister as an unswerving friend and protector. For Patchett, family connection comes not from formal ties or ceremonies but from shared moments: Danny accompanying his father to work, Danny’s daughter painting her grandmother’s fingernails, Maeve and Danny together trying to decode the past. Despite the presence of a grasping stepmother, this is no fairy tale, and Patchett remarkably traces acts of cruelty and kindness through three generations of a family over 50 years. Patchett’s splendid novel is a thoughtful, compassionate exploration of obsession and forgiveness, what people acquire, keep, lose or give away, and what they leave behind.

  • Library Journal

    August 1, 2019

    This latest from Patchett (Commonwealth) is a decadeslong family saga centered on a piece of real estate. Narrator Danny recalls his troubled childhood in the stately Philadelphia-area mansion purchased by his father, who was striving for a level of elegance and comfort that Danny's ascetic mother, an aspiring nun before marriage, could never accept. Largely raised by his saintly sister, Maeve, and a small household staff after his mother runs off to India in the footsteps of Mother Teresa, Danny forms an unbreakable bond with Maeve and a shared obsession with the Dutch House, from which he and Maeve are banned by Andrea, their egotistical stepmother, after their father's early death. The siblings structure their lives around the tragic loss of their home, sublimating their feelings of parental neglect into an all-encompassing loathing of Andrea. VERDICT Not all of Patchett's characters, particularly Maeve, are fully developed or believable, perhaps because of the narrator's own limited powers of observation; Danny more than once acknowledges his own lazy inattention to the people who care for him. Still, this is an affecting family drama that explores the powerful tug of nostalgia and the exclusionary force of shared resentments.--Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from August 1, 2019
    The Conroys kept the portraits of the stalwart VanHoebeeks, the wealthy builders of the so-called Dutch House, on display even as their own family fractured. A self-made real-estate magnate, Cyril bought the fully furnished mansion in a prosperous Philadelphia suburb to surprise his wife, catastrophically oblivious to her temperament and values. Cyril's son Danny has scant impressions of his long-gone mother, but his older sister, Maeve, cherishes her memories. After their father fails, once again, to gauge the situation and remarries, the mysteriously motherless yet privileged siblings are abruptly banished from their stately home and left penniless. This inspires brainy, mordant, unconventional, and fiercely self-sufficient Maeve to redouble her devotion to her brother. Patchett (Commonwealth, 2016) is at her subtle yet shining finest in this gloriously incisive, often droll, quietly suspenseful drama of family, ambition, and home. As Maeve and Danny dwell in "their own paradise of memory," their bond takes precedence over all else in their lives, including Danny's marriage, while Maeve's love life remains cloaked to Danny but heartbreakingly clear to readers. With echoes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and in sync with Alice McDermott, Patchett gracefully choreographs surprising revelations and reunions as her characters struggle with questions of heredity, altruism, forgiveness, social expectations, and the need to be one's true self.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

  • Boston Globe "The Dutch House has the richness, allusiveness, and emotional heft of the best fiction."
  • New York Times "Patchett's prose is confident, unfussy and unadorned."
  • Wall Street Journal "As always, the author draws us close to her protagonists swiftly and gracefully."
  • Publishers Weekly(starred review) "Patchett's splendid novel is a thoughtful, compassionate exploration of obsession and forgiveness, what people acquire, keep, lose or give away, and what they leave behind."
  • Kirkus Reviews(starred review) "This richly furnished novel gives brilliantly clear views into the lives it contains."
  • NPR "You won't want to put down this engrossing, warmhearted book even after you've read the last page."
  • Entertainment Weekly "Ann Patchett spins a dark, compelling fairy tale in The Dutch House."
  • Chapter 16 "A big-hearted, capacious novel..."
  • Columbus Dispatch "The Dutch House is unusual, thoughtful and oddly exciting, as well-told domestic dramas can be."
  • Associated Press "Patchett's storytelling abilities shine in this gratifying novel."
  • New York Times Book Review "Expect miracles when you read Ann Patchett's fiction."
  • O, the Oprah Magazine "Patchett is a master storyteller."
  • Los Angeles Times "A lavishly gifted writer."
  • Esquire "Patchett writes enviable prose—fluid, simple, direct, clear, and fearless."
  • PEOPLE Magazine, Best Books of Fall 2019 "Enchanting."
  • Booklist "Patchett is at her subtle yet shining finest in this gloriously incisive, often droll, quietly suspenseful drama of family, ambition, and home. . . . With echoes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and in sync with Alice McDermott, Patchett gracefully choreographs surprising revelations and reunions as her characters struggle with the need to be one's true self."
  • The Guardian "As always, Patchett leads us to a truth that feels like life rather than literature."
  • Evening Standard (London) "For Patchett fans who have been waiting for years, it's a worthwhile read."
  • BookPage "The Dutch House confirms what we've always known: Ann Patchett doesn't write a bad book."
  • New York Journal of Books "This finely textured novel is made up of many such small, intimate moments, yet the effect is sweeping, grand, and lavish—and all deeply moving."
  • Washington Independent Review of Books "This is a serious and poignant story, but also a delightfully funny one."
  • The Spectator "The Dutch House is beautifully written and often tender."
  • The Times (London) "A great novelist is on top form with this tale of lost family home."
  • Washington Post "Subtle mystery, psychological page-turner, Patchett's latest is a thriller."
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