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Pickle Me This

November 5, 2019

The Dutch House

I knew I was in trouble the night I was reading in the tub, and then called for my husband to bring in a box of baking soda and a cloth so I could scrub the grout between the wall tiles. My grout is dodgy at the best of times, but it really does take a special level of “not into a book” to drive me to clean my bathroom instead. Which was not the case with Ann Patchett’s latest novel The Dutch House, which I finished reading last night in a two hour whirlwind. Patchett’s books are a bit hit-and-miss with me—truth be told, I didn’t love Commonwealth. I liked it. It didn’t drive me to scrub the tiles, I mean, but it didn’t live up to my high expectations. Oh, but The Dutch House swept me away, and the twists and turns were never what I’d expected them to be. I have no idea how you’d dream up a narrative like this, the form and shape of it, I mean. I’ve been thinking about the specificity of the narrative of Ian Williams’ Reproduction, and this book is similar, the curious shape of family and of life and how few books actually manage to properly express that.

One thought on “The Dutch House”

  1. Jilanna says:

    I read The Dutch House a few weeks ago and, soon after, read The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs by Janet Peery for my group meeting. Both books seem to say something essential about siblings and families in a new way. I am glad I read them in close proximity.

    Ann Patchett’s books seem to be hit and miss with me, too. I quite liked both Commonwealth and The Dutch House but there were moments in each where I had my doubts. I wonder if I would have liked Commonwealth more or less if I hadn’t read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage first?

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