The Dutch House
2019, 352 pages
Starting from humble beginnings, Cyril Conroy makes money in real estate and decides to buy the Dutch House, a mansion in Elkins Park, outside of Philadelphia in 1946. He surprises his wife Elna and their children with it. But Elna is unprepared for this, and she hates the Dutch House.
She soon leaves for India, leaving Cyril, their daughter Maeve, age 10, and son Danny, age 3. Maeve gives herself the task of raising Danny and running the house. Cyril eventually marries again, and one day their stepmother tells Maeve and Danny that they must leave the house. They have gone from being poor to rich to poor again.
Maeve gets a job, and Danny goes to medical school on a scholarship in order to please Maeve. He doesn’t want to be a doctor. For years Maeve and Danny go and sit in a car outside of the Dutch House, talking and watching it, but never going nearer. Until one day someone walks up the drive again and everything changes.
This novel gives us wonderfully created characters of Maeve and Danny. And the Dutch House is a huge character itself, drawing them back again and again.
Listen to it on audiobook! Tom Hanks narrates it, and his talent brings a whole new dimension to the story.
This is a dazzling, richly detailed tale. It is fascinating to see the characters change over the decades, and to see the influence the Dutch House has over them. You won’t want to put it down.
Robbin Bailey, Concord Public Library
Visit CPL at at concordpubliclibrary.net.