That said, there were parts of the Dutch House didn’t entirely resonate with me. Maeve and Danny are siblings who grow up in a grand house in Elkins Park. Although I haven’t read any of Ann Patchett’s other books so perhaps I should start with Bel Canto? Fluffy becomes their nanny, and Sandy and Jocelyn are a part of their lives, too. Elna and May do lots of things together, and Maeve seems healthy and very happy. The sisters jab at Andrea by saying that she’s no Elna Conroy, who was a saint, and they do not know why Mr. Conroy married her. She is eventually fired for accidentally hitting Danny when he grabs at her skirt when she is cooking on the stove. I thought Bel Canto was a lovely book, and State of Wonder was just okay, but still well written. When May becomes rich and famous actress, she buys the house. Her name is on the house, the business, and everything else, and she does not want these spiteful children here anymore. I definitely want to read this book. Their children, Danny and Maeve, were raised in the Dutch House. Believe it! Fluffy also tells Danny that she saw Elna alive and well in New York; she’d been back in the States for a while. See the archives. I was out of town for a while and have been otherwise wrapped up in some other stuff, so this review took a little longer to get up than I’d intended, but here it is! The Dutch House follows Maeve and Danny lives over many, many years as they revisit and struggle to make sense of their childhood. Maeve loves her niece and nephew, though, never having married or had children herself. Danny and Maeve occasionally park outside the Dutch House and spy on Andrea voyeuristically. When Danny is three and Maeve is seven, Elna, deemed “crazy” by many people, leaves her family permanently to go work for the poor in India. Published in 2019, the novel tells the story of what happens to Danny Conroy and his older sister Maeve Conroy when their stepmother, Andrea Smith, expels them from their sumptuous childhood home after the death of their father, Cyril Conroy . And I found the character of their mother a little improbable as well, since her motivations and personality just didn’t make sense to me. After the VanHoebeeks died, the house went up for sale. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, her most recent novel, was released on September 24. When this happens, Elna resurfaces, at which point she and Maeve become extremely close. Maeve reclaims a painting of herself that's still there. One day, Cyril brings home Andrea, a young, pretty woman with two young girls, Norma and Bright. Within a short period of time, Andrea brings the two together and tells them coolly that she will no longer take care of them. Did you read this or would you consider reading it? Danny remains close to his sister, who does all the accounting and taxes for his business. Elna decides to help take care of Andrea (partially as a penance for abandoning her family). Danny does not want to do any of that, but he defers to his sister. , The novel was a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.. Cyril Conroy, a self-made real estate mogul, bought the mansion in 1946 to surprise his wife Elna. You will close the book half believing you could drive to Elkins Park and see it. Elna can do nothing about it, though, because she feels the need to be useful. He finishes medical school despite being uninterested in working as a doctor, hoping to please Maeve. Their mother Elna left when they were younger. Cyril is also more interested in nurturing Danny than Maeve, since Danny is male and will take over his real estate business someday. Maeve and Danny still stake out the Dutch House, but mostly out of nostalgia. The Dutch House is the story of Danny Conroy and his older sister, Maeve. I’ve read a few books from Patchett in the past and really enjoy her writing. Like Hansel & Gretel, Maeve and Danny are forced to lean on each other and, as adults, are trying to pick up the pieces of their childhood and find a way back home. Danny finishes boarding school and goes to Columbia as pre-med. Elna, his wife, is never comfortable in the house, feeling unnerved and oppressed by it. She thinks they should all go inside and confront their trauma. Andrea passes away, Elna stays on as caretaker with Sandy, and Norma says she will wait a couple of years to sell the house to May, who has always been enamored with the house (Bright is estranged from Andrea and wants nothing to do with the house or anything else). It tells the story of a brother and sister over the course of five decades. Fluffy didn't tell Maeve in fear of upsetting her. , Publishers Weekly gave the novel a rave review, writing, "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. It’s neither too sparse or too flowery, instead it’s crisp, clear and confident in an unassuming way. resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. ", Kirkus Reviews gave the novel a rave review, writing, "Casually stated but astute observations about human nature are Patchett's stock in trade, and she again proves herself a master of aging an ensemble cast of characters over many decades. Glad to hear I’m not the only one that thought it seemed like her personality didn’t make a ton of sense. The siblings maintain contact with Sandy and Jocelyn and eventually Fluffy as well, whom Maeve initially encounters and who then meets with Danny. I find Ann Patchett’s writing very pleasurable to read. Maeve and Danny’s childhood has a fairytale-eque quality, as if Cinderella and Hansel & Gretel were mixed together. The Dutch House is a mansion located in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves. It certainly made me think about my own childhood and the stories I’ve formed around it. For the Detailed Plot Summary, click here or scroll all the way down. In college, Danny discovers his genuine interest in real estate and wants to follow in Cyril's footsteps, but lacks the capital to pursue it. It was built in 1922 by the VanHoebeek family, a husband and wife originally from the Netherlands who made their fortune in the tobacco industry. They also have a young nanny for a while: Fluffy, who worked for the VanHoebeeks and then for the Conroys. Danny enters medical school. Danny’s business booms and he feels content with his choice. Danny knows this is so she can stay close to him. He hopes to take over his father’s business someday. In this story, only the house doesn't change. Danny is never excited about becoming a doctor but goes through all his training all the same. She is exceedingly kind to her, and when they all leave the house, Elna tells Maeve she is going to help out there. She holds this against the children forever. It turns out that Andrea has extensive memory loss and is being cared for by a nurse and Norma, now a doctor, who moved home to be with her mother. They grow up in a grand house, known as the Dutch House. Maeve still works as a bookkeeper at a grocery store in a nearby town. Maeve does not want to, but she tells the two others to do so. Narrated by Danny and moving back and forth in their history over the span of five decades, the novel chronicles how the siblings come to terms with the trauma of their early life. The novel is narrated by an adult Danny Conroy. The house is nicknamed The Dutch House, after the wealthy Dutch family that once inhabited it. Unfortunately, she is on her way to becoming Cyril’s wife and bringing her own two young girls, Norma and Bright, into the family. Celeste and Maeve despise each other, and Danny tries to manage their acrimony. Danny realizes he was wrong about his assumptions of her and she becomes his and Celeste’s nanny for a while. He and Celeste end up divorcing amicably. Copyright © 1999 - 2020 GradeSaver LLC. But if you allow yourself to walk along with Patchett, you'll find riches at the end of the trail. May and Kevin go off to college, and May is on her way to becoming a famous actress. In Part III, Maeve gets very sick (she has diabetes), so Fluffy reaches out to Elna, who shows up at the hospital. What do you think? Maeve discovers a scholarship trust and uses it to send Danny to Choate Rosemary Hall, Columbia University and to Columbia Medical School. Plus, The Dutch House’s fairytale-esque elements appealed to me along with it’s beautiful cover, so naturally it was high priority on my list of books to read. They (reluctantly) go and discover that Andrea now has a degenerative mental condition and doesn't recognize them. The Dutch House study guide contains a biography of Ann Patchett, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.