• Aashi Pandey

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett’s eighth novel takes place in and around ‘The Dutch House’, which rests in Pennsylvania. It follows the lives of two siblings: Danny and Meave Conroy. Their family is the epitome of dysfunction.


Mother left her family behind to help the poor in India.


Step-mother Andrea is a loathful parasite (this might be an exaggeration, but I stand by it).


Father is painfully accepting of the treatment Andrea gives her stepchildren.


Our protagonist is Danny, the youngest of the Conroy family. This is essentially his coming-of-age story. He has an obsession with his childhood and a reluctance to let go of his grim upbringing. He keeps revisiting The Dutch House- both literally and metaphorically- with Meave. Throughout the story, they sit in Meave’s car outside the House (which they have been kicked out of) and discuss their childhood, Andrea’s shenanigans, and their mother’s absence.


“We pretended that what we had lost was the house,

not our mother,

not our father.”


Patchett’s depiction of obsessive nostalgia through symbolism is commendable and fairly unique. She has expertly created a comfortable setting for her readers, which she slowly shatters as the story unfolds. The Dutch House is the documentation of characters stuck in a loop of time created by their minds.


“Like swallows, like salmon, we were the helpless captives of our own migratory patterns.”

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