All posts tagged: Commonwealth

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 …