old stately mansion with trees and shrubs

Summary of A Dutch House: Fiction Meets House Obsession

In this post: We take a slight left turn and enjoy a fictional account of a house I'm sure I would stalk on Zillow if it were real. 

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The Dutch House

by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett may be my favorite author and when I learned that Tom Hanks (my celebrity crush – there’s a whole story there) narrated The Dutch House audiobook, AND that it was set in my backyard, I was pretty excited. Sometimes when you go into something with this much excitement, there’s no way the experience can live up to your expectations. This is not one of those cases.

I could pontificate about my love of each of Ann Patchett’s books, but the reason I stretched the focus The Home Green's resource recommendations a bit and included this one is because the story revolves around a home – a stately mansion in Philadelphia’s suburban neighborhood of Elkins Park. In addition, the author has been a vocal proponent of a more minimalist lifestyle that I think may be interesting to readers of this blog. If you like the book and end up wanting to know more about the author, I encourage you to check it out. But back to the story.

The Dutch House, for which the book is named, almost becomes a character itself, and one that greatly impacts the lives of the human characters who come into contact with it. It is the sun around which they all revolve, and in some cases, metaphorically combust. Whether they fall in love with it, are embarrassed by it, are obsessed with it, or simply covet it, the Dutch House plays a huge role in the lives of each of the characters. 

Although the book takes place largely in the 1950s and 60s, it tackles themes of having and not having that are still very relevant. The characters each have a unique and defining reaction to the ostentation that surrounds them that comes to define their place in society and upward or downward class mobility. 

If you like character-rich fiction or books with gorgeous descriptions of beautiful homes, I’d encourage you to put this one on your list.x

From the author

In this video, Ann Patchett talks about the cover art of The Dutch House and why it is not an image of a house. 

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