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THE DUTCH HOUSE
September 24, 2019
Danny and Maeve have an interesting relationship with their childhood home. Named the Dutch House, their father bought the impressive but imposing house as a surprise when Danny and Maeve were young. Though the children love the house and come to think of it as their magical castle, their mother can’t stand the new home and eventually moves out, never to be heard from again. Their father soon remarries a cold woman named Andrea who loves the house…but never much cares for Danny and Maeve. When their father dies just a few years later, Andrea kicks both children out, leaving them destitute (save for a trust for future educational expenses). Danny and Maeve make their own way in the world—and do surprisingly well for themselves—but they still routinely drive back to the old neighborhood to sit in front of their former home and talk. It’s a way to support each other, but also a way to revisit and process the pain of their childhood.
The Dutch House is all about the internal lives of characters. Told from Danny’s perspective, the reader doesn’t always get an accurate understanding of what really happened. But that is one of the main issues explored in the book, this question of what is real, what really happened, and if we can ever really know the “facts” of our past when there is so much emotion layered within our memories. There are so many interesting relationships explored here—between siblings, between children and their parents, between a family and their home. It’s not a book that gives answers, but it does ask the reader to think and to question, and, more importantly, to look into the past, accept people’s limitations, and ultimately to be willing to forgive. The Dutch House is a captivating, thoughtful read, and I think it’s going to stay with me for a good long while.