Spanning decades over the lifespan of the Conroy family, Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House is a difficult, absorbing, fascinating read that was really hard to put down. Told from the perspective of younger brother, Danny, the reader is taken through Danny’s difficult childhood with his father and his stepmother. Protected and raised almost entirely by his sister Maeve, Danny graduates high school, college and eventually medical school; falls in love, gets married and has children.
However, while Danny’s life is the focus of the story, Maeve shines as the true protagonist. She is complicated, capable of incredible generosity and kindness, while remaining bitter and distant at the same time. The story is an intriguing look at history, family and the intricate ways that we are tied together.