Book– The Dutch House is the latest novel by Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and Commonwealth. The Dutch House follows siblings Danny and Maeve Conroy as they navigate a complicated childhood that includes a mysterious, absent mother, a distant but loving father, and a stereotypical evil stepmother straight out of a fairytale. At the center is the “Dutch House,” a beautiful, extravagant, old home where the siblings grew up. The house and the events that transpire reverberate with, and profoundly shape, the siblings’ adulthood.
This is my first Ann Patchett novel. I admire her confidence, which expresses itself in the controlled and well-structured narrative. The Dutch House is not action-packed, but builds its strength on the insights of family, memory, loss and the power of a place. Recommended for fans of contemporary and domestic fiction, The Dutch House is available for digital download, in Large and regular print, and audiobook, narrated by Tom Hanks!
Book – Franny Keating falls in love with a well-known older author, Leo Posen, in her twenties. She shares the story of her turbulent childhood with him, which he publishes into a bestselling book. It stirs up the past and Franny, her siblings and stepsisters must finally face the events that led to a family tragedy many years ago. The chain of events began when Franny’s mother fell in love with a guest, Bert Cousins, who showed up with a bottle of gin at Franny’s christening. She eventually divorced Franny’s father to marry Bert, a father of four. Franny, her sister and their step-siblings were often left to their own devices over Summer vacations and holidays. Cal, the oldest of the bunch, led them on adventures and the six forged a strong bond, which endures even after the tragedy. The book traces the relationships and lives of the families over forty years and their different memories of the past. I thought this book was honest in its examination of families, their struggles and the love that prevails throughout.
Book – Leo Plumb and his siblings – Beatrice, Jack and Melody – are due to receive a family inheritance when the youngest (Melody) turns 40. Their father had intended the inheritance as a modest supplement to their income. But, the value has soared and now the Plumbs are relying on the “Nest” to help them though various financial predicaments. Then, a few months before they are due to receive their windfalls, Leo is in an accident that upends all of their plans. As the siblings try to recoup their losses, they reconnect and rediscover the ties and secrets that bind them.
I enjoyed meeting this family. Bea is an aspiring novelist, despite a decades-long writer’s block, and mourns the loss of her former lover. Jack hides a huge betrayal from his partner. Melody anxiously tries to keep track of her teenage twin daughters and hold onto her expensive lifestyle. And then there’s Leo. Charming, smart and witty, he also has no scruples about pursuing his own wants and needs. This book captures family dynamics and how loss, need, love and support thread through our lives and relationships.