Friday, 13 November 2020

Ann Patchett

When my daughters were little I used to read them the Blue Kangaroo books by Emma Chichester Clark.  While they were entranced with the adventures of Lily who kept losing her toy kangaroo, I became besotted with the house Lily lived in. It was generously proportioned with high ceilings, fireplaces and tall bookshelves, wooden spindles on the staircase and panes of coloured glass in the front door.  We were living in a small semi at the time and when we eventually did buy a larger house I was looking for a Victorian house like the one in the Blue Kangaroo books.

I do like a novel that centres around a house or has a house as character.  Ann Patchett's The Dutch House features a post WW2 house built with secret crawl spaces, window seats and  cinematic size panes of glass.  There is a shattered ballroom on the third floor, once infested with racoons and now lovingly restored.  The house is a backdrop for secrets slowly revealed and a rock of a big sister, the magnificent Maeve. There is also a second wife whose coldness and insecurity centres around her insatiable desire for the house.

I think this is Ann Patchett's finest novel to date and I want to go back to the beginning and read it all over again!


Arti said...

I'd listened to the audiobook of The Dutch House and thoroughly enjoyed it. Why, other than the wonderful story created by Ann Patchett, Tom Hanks's narration makes the characters come alive.

Carol said...

I've seen this author's books in the library & liked the cover of this one. Never actually borrowed it but I may give it a try next month when we're on holiday.

Vintage Reading said...

Arti, oh I can imagine Tom Hanks reading it, he's perfect!

Carol I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. The girl on the cover is Maeve a wonderful character.

Lark said...

I'd love to own a house with secret rooms and window seats! So glad you enjoyed this one. :)

Nan said...

Thank you! I now want to read it. I'm like that with houses, too. There is a house in a Shirley Hughes Lucy and Tom book that I love. Though I live in a great old house, there are some things I simply long for in a house. A big stand-up-in attic, at least one window seat, a fireplace/woodstove in the living room and study. The house in The Holiday would be fine even though it was a set!

A Bookish Way of Life said...

I started this one and then stopped. I just didn't engage with it. I'm thinking it was my frame of mind at the time, because I have loved all of her books. After reading your post, I'm definitely going to give it another go. Thanks ;)

Nicola said...

Arti, oh yes I can imagine Tom Hanks reading it, great choice of narrator.

Carol, hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Lark, always wanted a window seat since reading Jane Eyre.

Nan, my daughters used to love Lucy and Tom, too. I also liked the illustrations she did for the My Naughty Little Sister books. Yes I would just like the window seat!

Bookish, sometimes a book finds you just at the right time!

Terra said...

I have this novel and you are encouraging me to read it soon. Patchett's Bel Canto and her book Truth and Beauty are wonderful books.