1. What do you think was Cyril’s philosophy on being a father?
2. After Andrea throws Danny out, Maeve takes him in, and she makes tremendous sacrifices to ensure his success in life. However, she also pushes him to do things that don’t align with his goals. Did you agree with all of Maeve’s decisions regarding Danny’s future? Why do you think she made them?
3. What did you think of Maeve’s plot to get revenge on Andrea by using up most of the education trust on Danny? Did you agree with her plan? Did you think it was unfair to Cyril, or to Norma and Bright?
4. In Chapter 9, Danny makes a comment about Celeste’s posture — just like his father used to do to Maeve when she was a child. In what ways do you think Danny became more like his father as he grew older? Do you think these changes were intentional?
5. Did you ever sympathize with Andrea?
6. Throughout the novel, Celeste and Maeve are unable to resolve their issues with one another. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve struggled to get along with a family member or in-law? How did you handle it?
7. When Elna returns after Maeve’s heart attack, Danny and Maeve argue about whether or not they should forgive their mother for leaving. Whose argument did you agree with, and why?
8. Eventually, Danny decides to get past his issues with his mother and forgive her for Maeve’s sake. Do you think you would have been able to forgive Elna? Did you think it was fair of Maeve to ask Danny to do this?
1. Why was the story narrated from Danny’s perspective rather than Maeve’s? How might the story have been different if told from Maeve’s point of view?
2. There are many descriptions of the Dutch House throughout the novel. In her interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Ann Patchett says that while many people have told her the descriptions of the house are very vivid, she truly believes she left a lot of the house up to the individual reader’s imagination. What was your image of the Dutch House? Does it differ from other members of your book club?
3. How would you describe the relationship between Danny and Maeve? Why do you think they remain so close throughout the novel?
4. What sort of influence did Danny and Maeve’s father, Cyril Conroy, have over them? How would you characterize Cyril?
5. Many of reviews of The Dutch House have compared the story to a fairytale: abandoned children, a creepy old house, and evil stepmother…is this a fair comparison? If The Dutch House does have fairytale elements, what purpose does that serve in the story?
6. After their stepmother kicks them out of the Dutch House, both Danny and Maeve remain obsessed with their childhood home. For instance, throughout the years, they often sit in a car outside of the house and just look at it. What explains their obsessions with this house? And how do their feelings about the house and about the meaning of “home” change with the passing years?
7. How did you feel about the jumps in time in the novel? Did the places where the narration moved forward in time make sense? Did it seem necessary for this novel to span such a large expanse of time in these characters’ lives? If the story focused on a smaller period of time, would it change the way we viewed the themes of this novel?
8. Did the book end the way you thought it might end when Danny’s daughter May buys the Dutch House? Does the Dutch House take on new meaning for Danny under this new ownership? Did it take on new meaning for you as the reader?