TITLE: The Dutch House
AUTHOR: Ann Patchett
PUBLISHER: Harper Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
RATING - 5/5
What a wonderful story of family, home, memories, love and loss. This is likely to be my favorite book of 2019.
The "Dutch House" is a character itself in this story. The grand estate located outside of Philadelphia was acquired in the mid-1940s by real estate developer Cyril Conroy after the previous "dutch" owner falls into financial ruin. When Cyril's wife, Elna learns that the family (they have a daughter Maeve, 10 and son Danny 3) are suppose to call this showy estate their home, she wants no part of it. Their previous home was tiny and cozy and now, the mansion comes complete with silk furniture, Chinese lightening and rich oil paintings along with hired help.
Elna had not been aware that her husband had acquired so much money and, the thought of living in this grand mansion causes her to flee to pursue her dream of helping the less fortunate. This leaves the young children to grow up with their cold, distant father and the hired help and, soon a wicked-step mother with her own children.
Told over a 50 year period from the POV of Danny (Tom Hanks is the audio book narrator and really comes alive in this role). He tells such an engaging and memorable story about the impact of our earliest childhood memories on our adult lives. I loved how this story came full circle and kept me engaged throughout. This just may be Ann Patchett's best book yet. I marvel at her ability to create a sense of tension and anticipation to her stories.