ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- I'm a real fan of Ann Patchett's writing, but this book is going right to the top as my favourite one of hers! As I was reading it, I resented time away from the tale, and when I'd finished it, I wished it had been longer and I didn't have to leave. It's what she does best, a family story told back and forth over a stretch of time, full of believable characters acting as people do, from love and hatred and incomprehension, written in glowing and effortless-seeming prose.
Maeve and Danny Conroy grow up in the Dutch House, a Pennsylvanian mansion their father bought for their mother. Who absolutely hates it, and eventually disappears from her family's life, leaving the children to be brought up by the housekeeper and maid, and a father who has no idea how to interact with them. Maeve is much older than Danny, who goes through his early life in a state of typical boyish self-absorption. He's a good kid who does what he's told, but being caught up in his own concerns doesn't always recognise what is going on around him.
When their father brings home Mrs Smith, who soon becomes Mrs Conroy, Maeve and Danny are in effect exiled from their beloved home. But as years go by, they return regularly, to stare at it from the road and conjecture on what is happening inside… A multi-layered story of love and revenge, of taking the easy way or resisting it, of how locations shape life as much as the people around you, and how the people closest to you can also be the most distant.
An unforgettably powerful new novel of the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go - from the Number One New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth and Bel Canto 'The book of the autumn. The American author of Commonwealth (brilliant) and Bel Canto (even better) releases perhaps her finest novel yet' - Sunday Times `The buzz around The Dutch House is totally justified. Her best yet, which is saying something' - John Boyne 'Do you think it's possible to ever see the past as it actually was?' I asked my sister. We were sitting in her car, parked in front of the Dutch House in the broad daylight of early summer.
Danny Conroy grows up in the Dutch House, a lavish mansion. Though his father is distant and his mother is absent, Danny has his beloved sister Maeve: Maeve, with her wall of black hair, her wit, her brilliance. Life is coherent, played out under the watchful eyes of the house's former owners in the frames of their oil paintings.
Then one day their father brings Andrea home. Though they cannot know it, her arrival to the Dutch House sows the seed of the defining loss of Danny and Maeve's lives. The siblings are drawn back time and again to the place they can never enter, knocking in vain on the locked door of the past. For behind the mystery of their own exile is that of their mother's: an absence more powerful than any presence they have known.
Told with Ann Patchett's inimitable blend of humour, rage and heartbreak, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale and story of a paradise lost; of the powerful bonds of place and time that magnetize and repel us for our whole lives.