This story features a character constructed of glass, wood, and stone.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett is a fascinating study of the influence of home. Set in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania (a Philly suburb I called home for nearly a year), the fictional Dutch House was built by the VanHoebeek family in 1922 and strategically situated on a spectacular property.
Seen from certain vantage points of distance, it appeared to float several inches above the hill it sat on. The panes of glass that surrounded the glass front doors were as big as storefront windows and held in place by wrought-iron vines. The windows both took in the sun and reflected it back across the wide lawn … Not only could you see into the Dutch House, you could see straight through it. The house was shortened in the middle, and the deep foyer led directly into what we called the observatory, which had a wall of windows facing the backyard. From the driveway you could let your eye go up the front steps, across the terrace, through the front doors, across the long marble floor of the foyer, through the observatory, and catch sight of the lilacs waving obliviously in the garden behind the house.
But the Dutch House seems to set in motion the undoing of everyone who associates with it. And when it comes under the care of the Conroy family at the end of the Second World War, readers are positioned intimately close to siblings Danny and Maeve for the next generation of disintegration.
However, this is a story about hope and survival—the best kind of story to stick with. And I think readers will find the surprising end to The Dutch House uniquely satisfying.
Speaking of reaching the end of the book … Because the narration of The Dutch House switches frequently between time periods that span five decades, I recommend readers set aside blocks of time to enjoy this book instead of trying to piecemeal a few pages here and there. Readers who like to listen to their books might be interested to know that Tom Hanks narrated the audio version of The Dutch House.
Here with you,