The Dutch House by Ann Patchett @harperbooks #familydynamics #devotion #literaryfiction #fictionfriends #duoreviews @JanBelisle @absltmom

What represents you as a person? Is it the people you know, the clothes you wear, or even the house you live in? Could it be in one’s zeal to be acknowledged that the aforementioned things are really what makes the persona a person wishes to put forward. What happens to character, to strength, and to the willingness to help others, particularly family, as the components of what makes a person? In this book, Ann Patchett presents us with a family whose lives are tragic shells of what could have been. But is that enough to know, for in every tragedy there always emerges victors and perhaps in this book there are no victors whatsoever just losers in the game of life.

The Dutch House

“Do you think it’s possible to ever see the past as it actually was?”

Jan’s review

2.5 stars: Danny and Maeve are siblings who can’t overcome their past. Abandoned by their mother at an early age, Maeve, the oldest, assumes the mother role. Everything changes further when their emotionally distant father marries the evil stepmother and the children are cut out of their inheritance. The pain, bitterness, and anger shapes their personalities and their future. How do they move past such a childhood? 
My questions:  What does forgiveness look like? Does forgiveness mean you allow toxic people back into your life? Is that healthy? What is required of the person(s) who did you wrong?  I have my own thoughts about these issues but you’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself. 
This was one of my most anticipated books of the year. The first 75% was riveting reading. But the story took a turn that I found unrealistic and ridiculous. I can’t say more without spoilers but I’m glad I could vent to my reading buddy Marialyce. I’ve tried to discern the author’s purpose in writing this book and it either escapes me or it’s one I can’t buy into. 
* I received a copy of the book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

Marialyce’s review

This was a book I had to think about after finishing. I truly wanted to fall into a deep and abiding love for the story and yet I found it so unrealistic that I had to question what if any was the motive behind the story. There seemed to be no overwhelming meaning to the characters. Everyone and everything seemed disjointed and to me a wash of grey characters, not believable and certainly not ones to be emulated.

From the dereliction of being a mother, a father who is in all intents absentee, to the relationship of brother and sister and a step family, I could not get a firm grasp on what the author was trying to say. It was a big disappointment for I am one to accept stories with messages not however messages that are murky if not obscure. It was like going on a roller coaster waiting for the biggest and tallest hill and then there was none. Left to a stilted somewhat boring ride, you emerge with no sense of wonder but a sense of what the heck was that and where was my thrill?

So here I will sit with a not so favorable outlook on this story. I have liked three of this author’s books, particularly the book, Commonwealth, but unfortunately for me this book left be feeling as vacant and bereft as her characters seemed to be. 2.5 stars for me as well.

6 thoughts on “The Dutch House by Ann Patchett @harperbooks #familydynamics #devotion #literaryfiction #fictionfriends #duoreviews @JanBelisle @absltmom

  1. Great reviews! I agree with Marialyce’s view. I found this book to be rather disappointing. People say it is “understated”, but all I can see are “done-to-death” topics of a dysfunctional family, love between siblings and inability to get over one’s past (childhood’s trauma). Oh yeah, and after The Goldfinch (Tartt) and The Little Stranger (Waters), houses and portraits must feature, too. I cannot even say that these topics were presented in a compelling way. It was a rather dull read for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was the first book by Ann Patchett I read, or listened to. I really liked this one, but I think it might have been because it was narrated by Tom Hanks. I did have to look at it as a fairytale, so was okay with a lot of the issues. Like they say, everyone takes something different from a book and I think this will be one of those with ratings all over the map. Nice, honest reviews ladies.

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