Tag Archives: Literary Fiction

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: Miracle Creek

Miracle Creek

Miracle Creek
By Angie Kim
Sarah Crichton Books, 9780374156022, April 2019, 368pp.

The Short of It:

I do not know what I thought this book was about before reading it but I certainly didn’t think it was about a hyperbaric oxygen therapy accident.

The Rest of It:

I simplified that blurb a little because Miracle Creek opens with a terrible accident but then quickly turns into a court room drama, a mystery, a story with an immigration thread and even a bit of scandal.

Young, Pak, and their teen daughter Mary, run a hyperbaric oxygen therapy business that they call Miracle Submarine. Adults and children, enter the chamber to partake of its healing properties. On this particular day, the normal group enters but there is a terrible explosion which kills one adult and one, autistic child, Henry. The accident leaves several other injured as well.

It’s believed that Elizabeth set the fire which caused the oxygen tanks to explode. Elizabeth being the mother of Henry.  The prosecution believes that she wanted her child dead, due to his burdening care. This triggers all kinds of thoughts about the care for special need kids.

The story bounces between characters. Who did it? Who set the fire? Why? Many of the witnesses are lying but for different reasons. In all honesty, this story was difficult to get through. There is a lot of back and forth and even though it revolves around just a  handful of characters, I had to keep reminding myself who they were.

However, the ending… the ending was beautiful and sad and left me with thoughts about how hard it would be to care for a special needs child. How hard it is for people from other countries to make a living here. How hard it is to fit in. So I think in the end, I liked it much more than I thought I would.

I read this for my book club discussion which was cancelled due to social distancing but we may try to meet via Zoom so we can discuss it. Have you read it?

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