The Dutch House by Ann Patchett confirms that she writes beautiful stories. The writing is gorgeous. For me, however, the story is less so.
Maeve and Danny’s story revolves around their childhood home, The Dutch House. In fact, the house is such a large part of the story that it essentially becomes a character unto itself. Unfortunately, I do not feel that sense of nostalgia about former homes and therefore could not commiserate with Maeve and Danny as they obsess with their loss. I don’t fault them their feelings but without this connection, The Dutch House loses a bit of its strength.
In fact, Maeve and Danny do have a tragic childhood, the explanation of which is the key to the story. However, they become successful adults because of what happened rather than despite it. Also, their relationship becomes even stronger because of what happens. So, as much as they mourn the loss of their family home, it becomes a blessing rather than a curse.
Watching Danny grown and discover his strengths and desires, as told through Ms. Patchett’s almost poetic writing, makes reading The Dutch House worthwhile. Unfortunately, without my own ability to understand that connection to a house, the story is sad and slightly pathetic. However, for those readers who see a house as more than a building, The Dutch House is another great example of Ms. Patchett’s work.