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.