Ann Patchett’s “The Dutch House” was superb. It helped that the audio book was narrated by unequaled talent, Tom Hanks. Patchett does an excellent job of storytelling by blending both a very detailed account that creates images in your mind, with a vivid setting for the book, starting in the years post-World War II through the 1970s.
I would say the novel is more literary fiction, rather than historical fiction, but I think it could fit in either genre. The story revolves around “The Dutch House,” a pre-war mansion designed by a Dutch architect in the late 1800s to a family who owned a lucrative cigarette business. Sickness and disease and then the world wars ravage the family until the last member die and there is no one to take the house. After some wise business deals, a previously poor Conroy family, led by Cyril, acquires the house setting his family on a new odyssey as its owners and occupants.
Narrated through the eyes of Cyril’s youngest son, Danny, the story starts in his childhood, through his parents’ divorce, having a new stepmother and stepsisters, and then through his adulthood, a life always impacted by the house. The tale weaved by Patchett is both captivating and heartbreaking. It uniquely captures human existence in a way few novels do. There was much depth in the relationships and the history of the family members throughout the story.
I loved this novel! Five stars!