The novel unfolds in a stately way, as befits the house that we now believe we too once lived in. Danny and Maeve, as attached as twins, even as the decades trip by, are continually fascinating. Various interlopers, such as children and wives, nannies and stepsisters, come and go, receive only respectful interest. My only quibble, other than the maddening information void that at times had me scrabbling ahead in the book, is that the ending feels a little too neat and tidy.
We expect a lot from Patchett. She has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction three times, winning it in 2002 for her hostage crisis novel Bel Canto. This one does not let her, or us, down.
Dopeworld: Adventures in Drug Lands
"To its credit, Dopeworld is nothing if not ambitious. Vorobyov states as much himself, describing it bombastically as ‘true crime, gonzo, social, historical memoir meets fucked up travel book’. That is a lot to cram in. If sometimes he drops the ball (the..."
— The Spectator
This is a novel that makes the reader reflect upon how much anyone ever knows about a family, about the truth of any relationship. Patchett’s great gift is the way she builds intimacy between her characters and the reader. By the end of the book we feel deeply involved in the Conroys’ ordinary extraordinary lives. Her style is fluid and evocative, whether she is describing the shell of a building in Harlem or Andrea’s brittle fury. If the novel has a flaw, it is perhaps that Andrea fulfils just too much the wicked stepmother role, but then the book is pleasingly scattered with literary allusion... This is a fine book, perfectly conveying familial bonds and familial wounds. Ann Patchett gives us a detailed portrait of one particular family; but I’m betting that every reader will find something of the Conroys within themselves.
Ann Pratchett writes novels that quietly and thoroughly devastate the reader – in a good way. Her new novel is no exception. The Dutch House is about a brother and sister, Danny and Maeve, who are exiled from their family home by their stepmother. The siblings spend the rest of their lives unable to process their banishment or the secrets that are still hidden behind its doors.
The latest from the Orange Prize-winner is a masterful tale of family, love, sacrifice, betrayal and the nature of "home". In small-town Pennsylvania, Danny grows up in the splendid Dutch House with his distant father and his elder sister Maeve. His mother is absent and nobody speaks of her. One day his father brings home Andrea, soon to be his wife, whose presence will change Danny and Maeve’s future. They will be "drawn back time and again to the place they can never enter, knocking in vain on the locked door of the past." Just stunning, do not miss.