Tag Archives: Book Club

Review: The Dutch House

The Dutch House

The Dutch House
By Ann Patchett
Harper, 9780062963673, September 2019, 352pp.

The Short of It:

A dark fairy tale of sorts told in a very modern way. Beautifully written and filled with flawed characters.

The Rest of It:

When Cyril buys a beautiful house for his wife, Elna, he believes it to be the most romantic gesture a man can make towards his wife, but what The Dutch House represents to Elna, is a lifestyle that she can never rise to, one of wealth and opulence. Coming from a convent, her needs are few, or so it seems but after years of living in the house and trying to raise her daughter Maeve and her son Danny, she abandons them for India to work with the poor.

This abandonment is devastating to Maeve and Danny but what ends up being even more devastating is their new stepmother, Andrea. Suddenly, Maeve and Danny are forced to rely on one another and the insular world they build to protect themselves from reality, affects them down the line and impacts their relationships with others.

This was not a perfect book. Some things could have been explored more fully but as I was reading it, I felt the presence of that house. This is an excellent example of a house portrayed as a character in the story. It’s pulsing with life even when lives are falling apart. It’s immune to decay, which isn’t the case for the families who have lived inside it. To some, it’s glittering and beautiful and grand and to others, it’s imposing and intimidating and a reminder of what could never be. I LOVED this aspect of the story. So much conflict in these characters and so much to ponder.

I only keep books which I have loved or ones which I think could be re-read and loved again over and over and The Dutch House falls into that category. I highly recommend it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Make Your Home Among Strangers

Make Your Home Among Strangers

Make Your Home Among Strangers
By Jennine Capò Crucet
Picador, 9781250094551, July 2016, 416pp.

The Short of It:

A young woman is pulled between her family at home, her studies at school, and the political turmoil over the forcible removal of a young Cuban boy and his return to his father back in Cuba.

The Rest of It:

Many of you may recall the story of Elián González. He was the center of an international custody battle back in 2000. Make Your Home Among Strangers includes a fictionalized account of his story in the form of Ariel Hernandez.

Lizet is the first in her family to attend college but when she announces her acceptance, she is met with disappointment. Her sister just found out she is pregnant and Lizet’s mother was just left by her husband and the house has been sold out from under her. No one in the family is happy about this turn of events but Lizet is curious about a life outside of what she knows and goes, leaving some bad feelings behind.

At school, Lizet struggles. The schooling she’s had prior to college did not prepare her for the rigorous work that is expected of her. Her ties to home and the guilt she has over not helping her sister during this time, cause her to visit home often which confuses her more.

In the midst of all this, Lizet’s mother has joined with others to protest the removal of Ariel Hernandez. He lost his mother leaving Cuba and they feel that since he made it to the US, that he should be allowed to stay but the possibility of his removal looms large as the rest of the story unfolds.

This was a quick, one-two punch of a read. Crucet’s writing is genuine and thoughtful. Lizet is a very believable character. Not perfect, but trying. My discussion group chose this book for next week’s discussion. I had to go back to read up on Elián González because I had forgotten a lot of the particulars. Do you remember his story?

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.