Sunday, November 13, 2016

Commonwealth; Ann Patchett

Commonwealth, Ann Patchett
Harper - 2016

I started and stopped this book about 3 times since late summer, and finally finished it last week.  It's an excellent story but, I just had some issues with the writing style. It's a style that one reviewer describes as a "hot mess". I tend to agree.

Commonwealth, begins with a christening party in Southern, CA for Fix and Beverly Keating's second child, Franny. At the party there are far too many people, too much alcohol and an uninvited guest who works with Fix that shows up.  Before the evening is up, two families will be torn apart. 

Bert Cousins, is the uninvited guest. He's a man who can't deal with spending his weekend with his three small kids and pregnant wife.  He leaves home and shows up at the party with a bottle of gin.  Bert has always been a womanizer and at this event it's Beverly Keating who proves just too irresistible for Bert. One kiss, and a mutual instant attraction and soon two fractured families.  Bert and Beverly move from CA back to Bert's home state of VA.

The title "Commonwealth" is significant and, the story follows the children and adults of these marriages through middle and old age.  The family saga is large in scope. It's complicated, dysfunctional and even tragic. Yet, despite the sad parts, at times I found myself laughing as I read. The characters are well drawn and for the most part memorable.

The non linear writing style was hard for me to get used to. The story, although very good, kept moving from one character to another and, the constant shift in POV felt off putting after a while.  Despite my struggles with this one, I loved the way that the author chose to end this family drama.

3.5/5 stars
(eGalley)


27 comments:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this book, Diane, especially the ending. I haven't read anything by this author yet.

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  2. A new book for me. The title was puzzling me for a while!

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  3. I am happy you enjoyed it by the end. Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors. I loved Commonwealth. My review: http://keepthewisdom.blogspot.com/2016/10/commonwealth.html

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    1. I love her books as well, but this was tough for me.

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  4. I love Ann Patchett and I loved this book. So glad you enjoyed it in the end :)

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    1. Glad u liked it as well Nadia - I have enjoyed her in the past.

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  5. I've been wanting to read Ann Patchett for ages - especially since we visited her bookstore not too long ago. I'm glad that you enjoyed this one once you settled into it. It does sound a bit overwhelming with all the characters and time periods. The nonlinear style will be a bit of a challenge for me but it sounds so good overall that I'm looking forward to reading it. Great review!

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  6. I don't do hot messes well at all.

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  7. I'm eager to read this one but may have to wait a while. Patchett's books require me to have a lot of time and patience - both of which are a little thin right now for me.

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    1. LOL - I can understand that with a job, and tiny one.

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  8. I've started and stopped this novel once. I was considering recommending it for my book club's selection in Jan. , when it's my turn to offer some choices. I may think again about it. I think the choppy start turned me off, but even so, the writing seemed good.

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  9. So many people, myself included, have loved Ann Patchett's writing style. It's too bad she has changed in a way that might put people off, but I guess we all get to experiment.

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    1. I am a huge Patchett fan but, this one was tough for me.

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  10. I started, and stopped. And won't pick up again. I just didn't like these people!

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  11. I'm so glad I read your honest review. I'm going to be reading this in January for one of my book clubs. I've read several negative reviews and I was beginning to dread this choice. Thanks for making me feel more hopeful. I'll probably come back and read this several times so I don't give up.

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  12. I was so so disappointed with this book, and I did a honest video review about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkIsTh4izNk

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  13. I ended up liking this one a lot. I think I may be the exception in that, after that first jump in time, I started to settle into the changing points of view and movement back and forth in time and enjoyed the way it unfolded.

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  14. Ooh. What a shame about the writing style. I will still read this book since I already own it. Here's hoping it doesn't drive me mad. Cheers to you for finishing it. There is no way I would have if it took me three months.

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  15. I liked the book, but not my favorite. Not sure what about it was a hot mess, I thought it was well written. It is loosely based on her own family experience.

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  16. Hmmm. I started and stopped this book once. I'm not a huge fan of Patchett and with the mixed reviews, I doubt I'll give this one a second chance.

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