All posts filed under: November

Commonwealth: a nation, state, or other political unit

“It’s like this enormous tree had just crashed through the house and I was picking up the leaves so no one would notice what had happened.” I read this book early last year, so details are a little fuzzy BUT, I do know that I LOVED it. I read it in one day, one sitting, becoming completely immersed in the lives of the Keating and Cousins family. Ann Patchett is one of my favorite writers (if you haven’t read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, DO IT). She has a way of setting the scene that makes you feel as if you’re right there, which is exactly what she did in Commonwealth. From the first chapter, I could picture myself at Franny’s baptism, I could smell the gin, I could taste the oranges. And I was hooked. While I’m not always a fan of stories where nothing happens, the character development and the relationships between these complicated families — not to mention Patchett’s beautiful writing — had me flipping the pages, eager to …

What’s it about? Stuff. Really good stuff.

Commonwealth is an uncommon read.  It revolves around a family that is uncommon but somehow not uncommon at all. The relationships between families divided and rebuilt with scraps is a universal theme. Even if you come from a family never split by divorce, you definitely have something off about your family. (If you think there is nothing off about your family, you are probably the thing that is off about your family.) Through the complex narrative that Patchett slowly unfolds, you can find pieces of the story that make you feel at home – sometimes the chaotic, dysfunctional version of home that so often defines our family. It speaks to the excellence of Ann Patchett’s writing that she could develop little stories and relationships and build it into something greater than the sum of their parts. It is the way she describes seemingly innocuous parts of the scene that drew me in.  Describing a single mother’s struggles – “She was always arriving, always leaving, never there.” It’s an enormously complex struggle synthesized into one sentence. …

Everything and Nothing

Though I bought Commonwealth in mid-May, I didn’t start reading it until a few days ago. Mostly because I wasn’t sure I would like it. I had read a few reviews and talked to a few people who said variations of, “it took me a long time to get into it,” or “I couldn’t relate and didn’t connect with any of the characters.” I was dreading reading a book that I wouldn’t enjoy. Fast forward to November 26 when I decided to start it, with every intention of not finishing and writing a review that said exactly that. But lo and behold – I was hooked from the outset. I read the first quarter in one night, the next third the following night, and finished the rest over the next two days. Don’t get me wrong, it was not without its faults. The narrative device somehow made it feel like nothing was happening when in fact so much had happened that it was hard to believe. As I described it when discussing with the other Bookly Clubbers …

Uncommon Read

This book surprised me more than most. I know Commonwealth has been talked up for the past year (or so) since it’s release, but I wasn’t expecting too much. From all the descriptions I predicted it would be a relatively uneventful story about a complicated family and their 300+ page journey to right the wrongs of their past. Seemed like a story I’d already read before, and not much more. It was all of those things, but also more. Not to say those qualities by themselves aren’t enough for a good book, it’s just not what I was in the mood for. Current events leave me wanting for something more escapist, and Commonwealth throws you right into the beast of the realities of family, regret, and mortality. But in the best way… This is the first Ann Patchett novel I’ve ever read so I wasn’t sure what to expect from her writing. I thought it’d fall somewhere between Judy Blume and Sylvia Plath. And all things considered I think I was pretty spot on with …

November Book

We’re back again, as we are at the beginning of every month, to announce our book for this month! This is one we’re really looking forward to since it’s been high on our to-be-read list since its release early last year. Nominated as Best Book of the Year by several publications, critically (and publicly) acclaimed, and written by a legendary author, who wouldn’t be excited for our November pick; Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth ? Spanning the course of 50 years, Commonwealth shows us how one affair affects the lives of the four parents and six children in the Cousins and Keating families as they’re forced to become one blended, bi-coastal family. Spending summers in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a bond based on shared disillusionment and the strange but genuine affection that grows between them. But once they’ve grown, these children are ultimately forced to look at their story a different way when it becomes the plot of a best-selling novel authored by Franny Keating’s partner.   This is Patchett’s seventh novel, but her …

What the…

Ok so I’m disturbed. Which is, I guess, the point of this book. But if the only point of the book is to disturb people, then I guess it is a success.  I’m not sure that tawdry is a driving force enough for me in my reads.  For my TV, absolutely.  I agree with Katherine C.  I was hoping for a more purpose to all the characters decisions and actions – some meaning to it all.  Not just money because that seems too easy.  I’ve got to be honest – I was just thinking that this must be the BEST lifetime movie. The absolute best.  I mean, right Katherine C.? I like my TV dumb and mindless and overly dramatic.  (AKA Real Housewives of Vanderpump Rules – Chopped edition. Also just in case you have also read this far…anything where they cook cupcakes – I’m all over that.) The problem is is that while reading the book, I just thought about that 1. icky and 2. I gotta get my hands on the lifetime movie. So …

Deeply Disturbing

Whoa. That was … interesting. Somehow it felt very 70’s. I’m not sure why. Were the 70’s filled with child abuse and incest? This book would make you think so. Yikes. So yeah, Flowers in the Attic was very dark. I guess that’s to be expected considering the fact it’s about a narcissistic mother who locks her four children in an Attic for years. There’s that tiny happy part in the beginning, and then you just drudge for hundreds of pages through the poor lives of these innocent children living like abused zoo animals. It was pretty sad at parts, and really disturbing at others. And to what end? I’m not sure. I feel like for a book to have such dark and disturbing content there should be a reason for it… a particular message, lesson learned, or necessary story to tell. But with Flowers in the Attic there didn’t seem to be a need for half of it… like when Chris feeds them his blood. Really? Although, I will say I liked the ending. It …

November Book

With November comes the start of the holiday season, which means lots of family time… and that can mean tension, frustration, and sometimes drama. Which brings us to our November pick: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. The first in the popular Dollanganger series, this disturbing tale tells the story of the Dollanganger kids. Hidden in the attic because of a family fortune, Chris, Cathy, and the twins are prepared to stay in the creepy alcove for a few days. But soon those days turn into years, and they are forced to adapt to this new life, isolated and with very little to survive. Written in 1979, Flowers in the Attic was what launched Andrews’ extraordinary career and creating a loyal fanbase. Now a Lifetime movie, this haunting novel will make you happy for the family you have. From the back cover: “This enduring masterpiece of psychological suspense remains the most famous and provocative novel from V.C. Andrews, one of the most popular storytellers of all time.”

Underwhelmed

When I read Katie C.’s review last week, I immediately texted the other Bookly Clubbers and said “uh oh, my review is going to look a lot like yours!” I started Tell the Wolves I’m Home on November 10. I didn’t finish until yesterday, which for me is a very long read. Usually, I pick up a book and in a few sittings over the course of 3-4 days, I’m done. I just couldn’t get into this one. Don’t get me wrong, Brunt’s style is enjoyable, the characters were well-developed, and the idea of the book, the story, was touching and I should have love it. However, I didn’t. I wanted to be on June’s side, but I couldn’t relate to her – even when I put myself back in my 14-year-old shoes, I didn’t feel a connection to her. Her relationship with Greta was fascinating, but Greta herself made me so angry. I think if I had understood Greta’s point of view better, if she had narrated for a bit or we got to “read her …

Don’t know why I couldn’t put it down

Tell The Wolves I’m Home was a really fast read… I think I finished it in about a week (and being 9 months pregnant with a toddler, that’s crazy fast for me). But I’m not sure why. I can’t say I loved the story all that much, or really related to any of the characters. And nothing tremendously dramatic happened during the 355 pages. But I’d sit down to read it and blow through 70 pages at a time. So, there must have been something gripping about it. I think it was the sisters’ relationship that kept me going. Honestly I didn’t really understand the Finn and June history or relationship (it felt a little dramatic for dramatic’s sake). But I liked watching the evolution between Greta and June. Although I wish they’d let us under the veil of what was going on with Greta a little more, but I guess that’s for our imaginations to figure out. And I think the friendship between Toby and June was well developed, and helped push the story along …