The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Publication Date: February 24, 2019
This review is going to be rambly and hopefully make some sort of sense, because I have not figured out how to talk about this book in a way that would actually make anyone want to read it.
As a little background, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Commonwealth, Patchett’s last novel even though I looked back and on Goodreads I rated it 4 stars? I just remember being like “these people have a lot of problems and nothing happens” which now is my favorite type of read, but back then I was like??? So, I didn’t plan on picking up The Dutch House, but I saw it at two local used bookstores, and I had a buy one get one at Beach Town Books and was like “why not”. I then learned that Tom Hanks did the audiobook so OF COURSE I HAD TO LISTEN TO IT.
The novel starts with Danny and Maeve as children, meeting a woman for the first time. As the reader (or listener in my case) you know she is going to be important, but you just don’t know how yet. The subtle foreshadowing that is interwoven into the novel is so good and is interwoven throughout this tale. In fact, I guessed two sort of big plot moments and I’m not sure if it is because I know stories or because Patchett laid the foundation of foreshadowing so well.
I wish I read this in a book club because I would love to talk about this novel with people.
WHAT I LOVED:
- Danny & Maeve’s relationship. I have not seen a sibling relationship in a novel quite like this one and it was so moving. I want to cry just thinking about it.
- I loved the small characters moments between them, when they both tried to quit smoking, when Danny visits her when she is in college, how they work together, and basically all their interactions.
- Honestly there is so much to unpack in their relationship since it is the thread that ties this entire novel together.
- Danny is lowkey annoying. He is the narrator and at times, the reader is just like DUDE NO, but I love messy and flawed characters.
- The writing is phenomenal. Patchett truly is able to paint a picture of this sibling duo. I could not pick out Danny from any other white guy, but I could walk through the Dutch House and give a house tour.
- Everything comes full circle in this novel and it was just *clenches fist* so good.
- TOM HANKS NARRATION!! Like many people I like Tom Hanks. He is a cool dude, but I’m not obsessed or anything, but after listening to him I’m like OK TOM WHAT ELSE ARE YOU NARRATING?
- He is such a good narrator and adds little inflections to make the sentences even more complex and interesting. YOU CAN HEAR THE EMOTION IN HIS VOICE.
- AP writing + TH narrating = v good book.
- This is a slow character driven novel. Not much happens (except their entire lives) and it has a nonlinear timeline. Yet, it is engaging and I did not want to stop listening. I was on a run listening to this when I thought to myself, “wow this is really good” I believe I was on part two of the audiobook at this time?
- CHAPTER 19!!
- THE COVER!! I adore Dutch oil paintings and once I figured out who was on the cover I wanted to scream at the perfection and the symbolism.
- I’m also obsessed with the brush strokes on the cover.
- I found out it is a REAL painting?! That Ann Patchett has in her home? That she commissioned from a friend? For the cover?! Anyways, read more here.
WHAT I DID NOT LOVE:
- The only thing I did not like about this novel was a lot of it is very “rich white people problems”. The novel touches on class inequality and the Vietnam war, but there never is deeper conversations.
- Danny does not realize how lucky he is. I would not want him to live any differently, but I would have liked him to at least be like, “well other people had it worse” and maybe acknowledge that people of color exist.
- This isn’t a critique on the book, but on me, I really need to read some analysis on this book because a lot of it I’m sure went over my head.
Overall, I adored this story. I see myself coming back to this audiobook in the future and forcing people to read it so we can discuss it. If you like character driven novels about people who are not the best, I recommend this one.