Book Review: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Oh, to write like Ann Patchett. Sigh. The Dutch House is a glittering, luscious jewel of fiction. The characters fly off the page and become real from the first page. The house is a place you want to visit, or better yet, inhabit. Or maybe the house inhabits you as you read it. Maeve and Danny, the children. Andrea, the step-mother. Cyril, the real estate genius. The house itself becomes a character, and a transparent one at that. As Danny tells us in the beginning, the windows are situated so that from the street, provided there are no leaves blocking one’s view, you can see straight through the house from front lawn to backyard. A metaphor? Maybe, but this house will live in your imagination long after you put the novel down. A nostalgic ache settled into my heart as I read this novel. I don’t know why–I’ve never been to a house like it. I’ve never known people like this. Or have I? The fiction reveals a truth, like all good fiction does: in this novel we learn a bit more about about what it means to be human, and from the ordinary emerges the extraordinary. It feels effortless, this magic, and yet we know it is anything but. I for one am glad that Ann Patchett continues to write, each one of her novels a revelation and a blessing. The Dutch House is a must read!