Tag Archives: Harper

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: A Good Marriage

A Good Marriage

A Good Marriage
By Kimberly McCreight
Harper, 9780062367686, May 5, 2020, 400pp.

The Short of It:

A woman is found dead at the bottom of the stairs. Her husband has been arrested for the crime, but everyone is lying.

The Rest of It:

*No Spoilers*

Zach is married to beautiful Amanda but their marriage is riddled with secrets. After dragging Zach to a party that he does not want to attend, Amanda returns home alone and is murdered shortly thereafter.

When Zach finds himself accused of her murder, he contacts an old lawyer friend, Lizzie to defend him even though she’s never defended anyone in a criminal trial. As Lizzie goes through the motions to discover the truth, she slowly realizes that anyone could have killed Amanda and that Amanda’s past was haunting her the entire time.

A Good Marriage is getting a lot of buzz. The author keeps you guessing the entire time. I thought I knew who the killer was numerous times and was wrong every time. Structurally, it’s tightly written and is an absolute a page turner (read it in one sitting) but I did not care about any of these characters, even Amanda. I don’t think you have to love the characters to like a story but in a murder mystery, I find it’s helpful to at least care about the victim. I felt nothing for her. Everything felt a little too detached for me. The relationships were somewhat shallow, or appeared to be which made it difficult to feel anything for these people.

I’ve read McCreight before. You may remember Reconstructing Amelia. That one had a lot of drama but I remember feeling empathy for the characters. That is the only thing I felt was missing here. In the end, I appreciated how quickly the story was told and for the author’s skill at keeping the big reveal a secret right until the end but had I felt a little more for these characters I think I would have enjoyed it even more.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.