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An Evening with Alastair Sawday

20th October, 2021, Steyning Cricket Club

The Dutch House

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Bloomsbury 8.99

‘Do you think it’s possible to ever see the past as it actually was? I asked my sister. We were sitting in her car, parked in front of the Dutch House in the broad daylight of early summer.’

Living in their beloved “Dutch House” a lavishly decorated folly of a mansion so named because of the original owners, Danny and his brilliantly acerbic and protective sister Maeve are thrown together when their mother walks out leaving them with their “impenetrable mystery” of a father. The bond is cemented when a “wicked stepmother” arrives and the pair are eventually ousted from the house. Twisting back and forth across five decades the novel paints an intimate, poignant and sometime humorous portrait of a family and its complex relationships, focussing on the two siblings who have found a precarious sanctuary in each other when they are failed by the adults who were supposed to nurture them.

“ The Dutch House brilliantly captures how time undoes all certainties.” The Guardian