‘The Dutch House’ is a splendid book by Anne Patchett.

Danny and Maeve two siblings lived in a sumptuous mansion called The Dutch house, located in Elkins Park, Philadelphia, which previously belonged to the VanHoebeeks. The couple whose stupendous oil paintings adorned the walls of the house eyeing everything and everyone wordlessly. Later, Cyril Conroy the father of the siblings bought the house to surprise his wife Elna who strangely never liked the house. The brother sister duo was fond of each other, their father was distant, mother was absent and caretakers were solicitous. Danny who was totally dependent on his beautiful, gutsy, vivacious elder sister seldom felt the absence of their mother who left for a reason unknown to them. They were doing fine until his father brings Andrea home. Gradually and visibly things started to change in the Dutch house and in the lives of the siblings. Even though they had to leave the house, the house never left them. Their past lingered, it kept coming back from unexpected ways and from unknown directions.

The story covers almost 5 dacades and portrays the life of three generations. The relationship between Maeve and Danny is something I adored the most. In Danny’s eyes Maeve is exceptional, irreplaceable. Maeve who fills the place for Danny’s mother and plays his best friend is a virtuous character with powerful thoughts and strong beliefs. The Dutch house has it’s own character to play and everything revolves around the house. You can’t help closing your eyes and picture the house, it’s lavish bedrooms, fireplaces, staircases, huge windows and of course the enormous painting of Maeve hanging from the wall.

According to me, it’s a beautiful movie which hasn’t been turned into a motion picture yet. A movie about a dysfunctional family and undetachable bonds which I’d utterly love to watch. Anne Patchett’s writing style is so beautiful. Character development is brilliant. You feel a profound attachment with the characters as well as the house. Through some said, some unsaid words, some felt some unfelt emotions, Danny by and by realizes it’s not possible to see the past as it actually was. But you actually accept it for what it was. Because, it’s already past.

Surbhi Islam

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