Publisher and Publication Date: Harper Perennial. First published in 2019. My edition January 5, 2021.
Genre: Fiction. Family saga.
Audience: Readers of family saga stories.
The Dutch House is the story of the Conroy family who bought the Dutch House in 1946. Cyril Conroy bought the home without his wife knowing. It was meant to be a surprise, but she didn’t like the surprise. Their children are Maeve and Danny.
The Dutch House is a three story home in Elkins Park near Philadelphia.
The story centers on the children.
The story reflects back on memories, but also their present lives.
The time period is mid 1940s to the 1980s (?). I’m guessing about the final years time period.
The narrator is Danny.
The Dutch House is a memorable story of the lives of two siblings who grew up in the home. A house that is its own character. Sometimes a house, building, material object can be used in a story like a person who is a character. The house is referred to so often in this story. It holds strong memories. Even after the children left, they are drawn back to the house again and again to try and peace together what happened.
I wonder, if the house could speak, what would it say?
Several reasons why I love this story:
1. Each of the four members of the original Conroy family are unique individuals. It’s as if they don’t belong in the same family. Their differences make the story larger. What I mean is if all of the family members were similar the story would seem small and uncomplicated. The vast difference in their personalities brings complications in understanding one another. It brings conflict.
2. Maeve is more like a mother to Danny. It is a relationship I’ve seen in my own life and in the lives of others. An older sibling becomes more of a parent.
3. The parent’s generation represents a people group who don’t communicate clearly. They don’t pass information on to their spouse or children about real heart issues. The children in the story is a generation who is trying to change this.
4. The Dutch House has a character who at first is difficult to like. This person has made a choice that’s shocking. Later in the story I understand the person’s feelings and decision. Even though I wouldn’t have made the same decision, I have empathy and no longer feel the prick of criticism.
5. The Dutch House is the story of love to the point of sacrifice. One sacrifices what they want to do in life in order to help another or please another. One sacrifices what they want to do even if that meant giving up a committed role.
6. The characters to some degree all have transformations in their attitudes, words, and behavior.
Themes are death and dying, betrayal, courage, honesty, loyalty, love, and sacrifice.
The Dutch House is a memorable story. After reading it, I feel these are real people I’ve met.