PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe reader learns a great deal about these characters, even as they hide the truth from one another ... At times, the secrets in this novel strain credulity. Culturally, the desire to protect the family from bad news rings true; structurally, the machinations involved become problematic. It is hard to imagine pregnant Fannie would be passive and unquestioning for quite so long ... Beanland’s subplots also require willing suspension of disbelief ... Sometimes the plot works against the novel, so that an incident that initially sparks curiosity begins to slow the narrative ... Despite these limitations, Beanland’s novel draws the reader in. The situation she describes is poignant and the characters she develops win us over with their private grief. Beanland is particularly good at conjuring 1930s Atlantic City, with its small family-owned hotels yielding to larger, more commercial palaces.
RaveThe Washington Post...bare summary sounds like melodrama, and this plot would devolve into cliche in the hands of a softer more sentimental novelist. Fortunately, Patchett is made of sterner stuff ... Patchett dramatizes this sibling bond as beautiful, necessary and dangerous ... Here again, the situation sounds both bleak and fanciful, but Patchett writes with restraint, never indulging in overwrought language ... Masterfully, this scene dramatizes the central conflict in The Dutch House— not the struggle between orphans and stepmother, innocent children and wicked witch — but the war between memory and mature reflection, childhood myth and adult analysis. A classic theme, but what makes this novel extraordinary is Patchett’s fair-minded presentation. She inhabits both the child and adult point of view. Both have their powers, their insights and deceptions, their vanities, cruelties, and passions. The outcome is uncertain, lives hang in the balance, and we cannot stop reading. Subtle mystery, psychological page-turner, Patchett’s latest is a thriller.
MixedThe Washington Post...lively prose, sharp transitions and an entertaining cast of characters … There are glitches. At times, Walter extends a moment two or three beats too long...At other times, Walter’s dialogue lands heavily … The quick reader will enjoy a plot that’s well constructed and also lively, shuttling fast between parents and long-lost children, books and movies, the Italian village Porto Vergogna with its ‘dozen old whitewashed houses’ and Claire’s coffee shop, where almost every table sports a ‘sullen white screenwriter in glasses, every pair of glasses aimed at a Mac Pro laptop, every Mac Pro open to a digitized Final Draft script.’ Time traveling, cross cutting, inter-textual and cross-cultural, this is The English Patient without the poetry or history.