Our meeting will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9, using Zoom. You can join this Zoom session via computer or phone. Email Cathe Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions; register online here.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.
Cyril’s son Danny and his older sister Maeve are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another.
Writing for NPR Heller McAlpin describes The Dutch House as “a paradise lost tale dusted with a sprinkling of Cinderella, A Little Princess and Hansel and Gretel.” After their mother leaves the family, siblings Danny and Maeve, motherless children now, suffer as deeply as if they were in the darkest of fairy tales. “Patchett’s concern here, as in much of her fiction, is with the often unconventional families we cobble together with what’s available to us. Being Patchett, she brings her novel around to themes of gratitude, compassion and forgiveness.”
Booklist reviewers noted that Ann Patchett “is at her subtle yet shining finest in this gloriously incisive, often droll, quietly suspenseful drama of family, ambition, and home.”
The painting on the book jacket was created by Nashville artist Noah Saterstrom at Ann Patchett’s request. She specifically did not want an image of the Dutch House on the cover, but instead requested a portrait of Maeve as described in the book. It now hangs in her house in Nashville.
The Dutch House is the most recent of Ann Patchett’s eight critically-praised novels, including Bel Canto, State of Wonder, and Commonwealth. She has also written several works of nonfiction, and a children’s book, Lambslide, published in 2019. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and the recipient of many literary awards.
Ms. Patchett is also co-owner of the independent book store Parnassus Books, in Nashville, where she lives, and has become a strong advocate for America’s independent bookstores and booksellers. Her blog, Notes from Ann, appears on Musing, the Parnassus Books website.
March 9, Second Tuesday Book Club at 7 p.m.
Join a live discussion of our March title, Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House on Zoom.