Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Reading this book was a delight. It seems like most of the books I picked up lately fell short of expectations at best, or were so bad they angered up my blood at worst.

Then I opened The Dutch House, and suddenly the clouds parted and golden rays shone down on my Kindle. The reading slump was over!

This compelling novel tells the story of family and mistakes made, the bond between a brother and sister, and a past they can't shake. Overshadowing and influencing it all is the grand house of the title.

Danny is our narrator, the youngest son of the man who bought the Dutch House as a surprise for his wife. The domino effect starts there, setting in motion events that will impact all of their lives for decades.

Family bonds loom large, particularly between Danny and his older sister, Maeve, who in many ways is more like a mother to him. The sacrifices they make and, at times, ask of each other are part of the close ties they share.

The characters make bad decisions that greatly affect their lives and the lives of others, and you'll fantasize about grabbing them by the collar and giving them a good shake before it's over. And yet, as always with Ann Patchett, the characters are exceptionally well-drawn and the reader can always understand how they make the choices they do. We're all flawed, we mess up. We avoid dealing with things. When these characters do, you understand their motivations or shortcomings that led them down that road.

Through it all, the Dutch House itself is like a river running through the characters' lives. It's a constant presence, and while their relationship to it may change, it never changes, not really. It may sweep them up and carry them along, or cast them out on the rocks.

It's hard to discuss this book too closely without giving spoilers, and this beautifully rendered novel deserves to be read without knowing its secrets in advance, so I'll leave the description there in it's vagueness.

As always with Ann Patchett, her way with words and insightful character development are worth your time. The writing is beautiful, the story engaging, and the characters real and believable. Highly recommended.

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It will be released for purchase on September 24, 2019.

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