The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

1. First lines. 2. Published 2019 Harper Collins 3. Porcelain wall plate. By monica1607 [Free for commercial use; No attribution required] via pixabay 4. Peonies [CC0 Public Domain] via Max Pixel 5. old-vintage-village-countryside. By kaboompics. [Free for commercial use; No attribution required] via pixabay.

Told from the viewpoint of Danny, this is the story of his family, the Conroys. Cyril Conroy is a real estate developer, whose wife Elna leaves the family home and disappears when her children Maeve and Danny are children. The reason for leaving seems to be that she hates the lavish house (the Dutch House) that her husband bought for her. The story traces their lives from the moment Audrey, Cyril’s second wife enters the house, through to the next generation of Conroys.

“The snow was coming down heavy and wet in New York on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Penn Station looked like a feedlot and we, the anxious travelers, were the cows standing in pools of melting slush, bundled up and pressed together in the overheated terminal.”

“That night in my sister’s bed I stared at the ceiling and felt the true loss of our father. Not his money or his house, but the man I sat next to in the car. He had protected me from the world so completely that I had no idea what the word was capable of.”

“It was the central question of my life and I had never asked before. “Why did my mother leave?” My father sighed, sank his hands down in his pockets and raised his eyes to assess the position of the clouds, then he told me she was crazy.”

~Quotes from “The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett
  • Publisher’s Weekly: 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.
  • New Statesman America: “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. “

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