The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Harper, 2019)
This well-known American writer has produced what looks like the most beautiful book of the year – you’ll want to put it on your shelves with the spine against the wall, as the edge papers resemble a piece of Delft china. This is a terrific novel of family hopes and disappointments set in Philadelphia after World War II. Bought by an ambitious man, the Dutch House marks his escape from poverty – but not for long, as his children, a brother and sister, are expelled from this paradise by their stepmother. Sounds familiar? You’ll be surprised – Patchett’s families are never what they appear and the superb characters and plot pull the reader along at a brisk pace. One of the best novels of 2019.