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Lose yourself in the story of a lifetime – the unforgettable Sunday Times bestseller
'Patchett leads us to a truth that feels like life rather than literature' Guardian
Nominated for the Women's Prize 2020
A STORY OF TWO SIBLINGS, THEIR CHILDHOOD HOME, AND A PAST THAT THEY CAN'T LET GO.
Like swallows, like salmon, we were the helpless captives of our migratory patterns. We pretended that what we had lost was the house, not our mother, not our father. We pretended that what we had lost had been taken from us by the person who still lived inside.
In the economic boom following the Second World War, Cyril Conroy's real estate investments take his family from poverty to enormous wealth. With it he buys the Dutch House, a lavish mansion in the Philadelphia suburbs. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.
Danny Conroy grows up in the opulence of the Dutch House. Though his father is distant and his mother is absent, Danny has his beloved sister Maeve: Maeve, with her wall of black hair, her wit, her brilliance. The siblings grow and change as life plays out under the watchful eyes of the house's former owners, in the frames of their oil paintings.
Then one day their father brings home Andrea, a new stepmother. Though they cannot know it, her arrival to the Dutch House sows the seed of the defining loss of Danny and Maeve's lives: exiled from the house and tossed back into the poverty from which their family rose, Danny and Maeve have only each other to count on.
'The best book I've read in years' Rosamund Lupton
'Her finest novel yet' Sunday Times
'The buzz around The Dutch House is totally justified. Her best yet, which is saying something' John Boyne
'A masterpiece' Cathy Rentzenbrink
'Bliss' Nigella Lawson
A 1920s mansion worms into the lives of the broken family that occupies it in another masterly novel from Patchett (Commonwealth). In 1945, Brooklyn-born real-estate entrepreneur Cyril Conroy purchases the Dutch House in Elkins Park, outside Philadelphia, and presents it, complete with Delft mantels, life-size portraits of the original owners, a ballroom, and staff, to his wife. She hates it. She runs away to serve the poor, abandoning her 10-year-old daughter, Maeve, and three-year-old son, Danny. Five years later, Maeve and Danny meet Conroy's second wife. The second Mrs. Conroy adores the house. When Cyril dies, she keeps it, dispossessing Maeve and Danny of any inheritance except funds for Danny's education, which they use to send Danny to Choate, Columbia, and medical school. Grown-up Danny narrates, remembering his sister as an unswerving friend and protector. For Patchett, family connection comes not from formal ties or ceremonies but from shared moments: Danny accompanying his father to work, Danny's daughter painting her grandmother's fingernails, Maeve and Danny together trying to decode the past. Despite the presence of a grasping stepmother, this is no fairy tale, and Patchett remarkably traces acts of cruelty and kindness through three generations of a family over 50 years. 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.